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Model U.N. Students Travel To Budapest, Hungary

A contingent of Loomis Chaffee Model United Nations students won the Outstanding Delegation award at the Yale Model Government Europe conference in Budapest, Hungary, in November.

The group of 12 students traveled to Budapest with two faculty chaperones during Thanksgiving Break for the conference and for an international education experience.

The group spent the first part of the nine-day journey exploring the city of Budapest — the economic, political, and cultural hub of Hungary. Accompanied by local guides, the visitors toured landmarks around the city, including the Parliament Building, City Park, Heroes Square, and the Jewish District. They also participated in interactive games designed to introduce them to Hungarian history and culture; took a boat tour on the Danube River; learned basic Hungarian phrases; enjoyed the iconic Szechenyi thermal baths; and shopped in one of the city's popular holiday markets. Under the direction of a local chef, the travelers prepared traditional Hungarian dishes for a special meal for the group.

"I've come to truly love the enchanted city on the Danube. It's a unique place full of rich history and culture ... ," wrote Rachel Engelke, head of the History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Social Sciences Department and advisor to Loomis' Model U.N. program. Rachel, who has taken student groups to the Budapest conference twice before, and Alec McCandless, the Christopher H. Lutz Director of the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies, served as chaperones on this year's trip, which was organized by the Alvord Center.

The second half of the visit centered on the model government conference, which brought together approximately 400 high school students in 30 delegations from schools around the world. The conference simulates political and diplomatic interactions in the European Union, making its geographic focus somewhat different from Model United Nations conferences, according to Rachel. Learning about the history and culture of Budapest early in the trip helped to add context to some of the European issues on which the conference focused, she said.

During the conference, Loomis students assumed roles as NATO representatives, European Central Bank representatives, and European national cabinet members from Austria, Lithuania, and Spain. At the closing ceremonies, the Loomis group received the Outstanding Delegation award, one of only two such awards given at the conference, and seven of the 12 Loomis attendees received individual awards. Individual recipients were seniors Rick Jatti, Allen Park, Ramesh Shrestha, and Robert Wang; and juniors Julia Deitelbaum, Minna Gao, and Lucy Shao.

Rachel praised all of the students for their poise and the level of commitment they brought as a group to the conference. The experience helped to prepare them for upcoming Model U.N. conferences at Yale University and Boston in January and February of 2018, which will include larger Loomis delegations.

For student and chaperone reflections, a summation of Loomis' team and individual awards at the Yale Government Europe Conference, and photos from the trip, connect to the Budapest 2017 travel blog.