Ava Griffitt Named ‘Outstanding Delegate’ at Model UN Conference

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

With all of the turmoil going on in global politics nowadays, knowledge of diplomacy becomes increasingly important.

Ava Griffitt, a senior here at the Academy, recently won the “Outstanding Delegate Award” at the Model UN conference in Milwaukee.

Model UN is an organization that seeks to model the actual events in the UN. At conferences each school participating is assigned a different country to represent.

“Usually, there are several main committees, each assigned to a different topic, such as cryptocurrency, the FAO or ocean plastic pollution,” explained Griffitt. “One person from each school is assigned to each Main Committee, and they have to research the stance of the country they’ve been assigned. The goal of each of the Main Committees is to draft a resolution -a solution- to try and fix their problem.”

Then four of the Main Committees converge and try to pass the resolutions in the smaller groups. Finally all of the Main Committees converge in the General Assembly and try to pass all of the resolutions that were passed in the smaller groups.

Griffitt was on one of the Main Committees last year, but she found it “pretty boring.”

Griffitt represented the Russian Federation, “Even though that meant I had a lot of power, I didn’t really have a say in anything after my original Main Committee was done with our resolution.”

This year, however, Griffitt was part of a Special Committee, The Joint Crisis Committee.

“Instead of everyone in my room representing a different country, we were all representing the same one. Instead of being nameless delegates, we were each given a different figure in history to represent. We were given a situation that was a turning point in the last century, and our goal was to play out the course of history to get what our country wanted.

“I was representing the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the USSR, Andrei Gromyko, in the Prague Spring of 1968. We ended up taking control of Czechoslovakia from the shadows, making the people there happy in thinking that they were free. In another room, another group was representing the Czechoslovakian government, and they ended up taking over Hungary and starting a revolution there. We ended the Committees by assassinating Leonid Brezhnev and taking control of the USSR through the KGB,” Griffitt explained.

Griffitt joined Model UN last year because she heard her sister talk about it at home.

“I was lucky that I got the chance to go to the big conference and represent Russia in discussing issues with and the solutions to the food crisis and the FAO,” she said.

Griffitt had a lot of fun in the club and knew she would continue it into her senior year.

“I heard from Lily Schumacher and Clare Ravizza that the Special Committees and Councils were so much more fun, which is why I tried (and succeeded) in getting a spot in the JCC this year.”

Model UN is not all just fun and games.

“Personally, I have a really hard time talking in front of people when I know they are going to disagree with what I have to say. That’s an issue I ran into last year, as Russia’s stances go against the stances of many other countries,” described Griffitt.

“Furthermore, the way everything is structured is meant to model the actual UN— including the speaking procedures. It’s really intimidating to be in Moderated Caucuses and Round Robins, where you only have 30 seconds to a minute to state your stance while everyone in the room stares at you.”

Fortunately, that’s the hardest part of the club. “However, I find it really fun to form alliances with people and try to get solutions the way I/my country wants. That makes the stress worth it,” she said.

Griffitt prepares for the conferences by reading the government policies and past UN statements from whatever country she is representing.

“I’ll also look at the major news sources from the country and see what they are reporting and how they report. This year, since I wasn’t in one of the Main Committees, I read through the timeline of the Prague Spring and thought about the causes and effects of the uprising.”

Anyone who knows Ava is not surprised she was chosen as the Outstanding Delegate. The award goes to the person who most accurately represents their “character.”

“Since I was the minister of foreign affairs, I thought that I should constantly check with other countries to see what their view of the USSR was. I think that our moderator (who was representing Leonid Brezhnev) thought I was doing a good job.”

Griffitt remains modest, stating that she had an “advantage” with her Committee.

“Since there were only 9 of us, the chances that I would stand out were much higher than in the Main committees, where there were close to 100 people.”

Next year, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is planning to give out scholarships to students who go there and are a part of Model UN. “For me personally,” shared Griffitt, “I just find it really cool to learn more about global politics. Meeting other people with similar interests is also a major plus.”

Although Griffitt is planning to pursue a career in the medical field, she believes diplomacy is important in every career.

As for people who might be considering Model UN?

“Honestly, you have nothing to lose! Being in a club is fun, and if you make it to the big conference, you can be as involved or uninvolved as you like.”