Miami Palmetto High School’s Model United Nations team hosted its second annual conference, PantherMUN II, on Saturday, Jan. 9.
Lasting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the school’s campus, the event had delegations that debated topics relating to this months UNICEF theme, human trafficking, according to Trevor Knecht.
“The conference was a great success,” Knecht said. “We had approximately 87 delegates from five schools participating in the event. There were a total of five committees that debated different topics: UNICEF (child labor); UN Security Council (ISIL Yazidi women abduction); International Labor Organization (migrant workers’ rights); UNESCO (gender equality), and Human Rights Council (black market organs).”
Dignitaries in attendance included Catherine Rodriguez, Diplomat in Residence for Florida International University; Dr. Lawrence Feldman, vice chair of the MDCPS School Board; Jacqueline Rojas, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Community Engagement Fellow, Miami, and Robert Brazofsky, executive director of the MDCPS Department of Social Studies.
Key organizers of the conference were club President Jeffrey Li, Secretary-General Julian Mayorga, Director-General Anthony Ouertani, Undersecretary of Communications Alicia Castro, Undersecretary of Public Outreach Trevor Knecht and Undersecretary of Technology Maxwell Woodbury.
Mayorga said he was pleased with the overall outcome.
“It was very successful. We were able to raise about $1,200 for UNICEF, which was the main goal of the conference, and raising awareness of our conference theme of human trafficking.”
Mayorga said that one of the guest speakers, Dr. Feldman, also made a good point that human trafficking is a local issue not only in our community but also especially in our schools because it is our students who sometimes fall victim to the heinous crime.
“The success of PantherMUN reflects the ‘comeback legacy’ of Palmetto’s Model UN Club, having grown from nine freshmen in just four years into a flourishing organization capable of hosting such an event,” Knecht said.
Li said, “Miami is reportedly the third highest hub for human trafficking in the nation. The conference is an outreach not only locally but also internationally because we’re helping these kids have the opportunity to experience what peace and cooperation and collaboration really mean. And the funds raised by the registration fee are going to UNICEF towards helping its work on some of the very same topics the delegates debated that morning.”
In response to what was their overall experience at PantherMUN, Lisa Deyarza of Miami Lakes Middle School said, “Very pleasant.” Dario Prepelitchi, Archimedean Middle School, said, “Wonderful!”
When it came to rating those on the dais, Jeffrey Dean of Aventura Waterways K-8 said, “Very well trained and prepared.” Krishna Chandra-das of Palmetto Middle School said, “Excellent.”