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August 31, 2022

AHA’s Model UN Delegates Excel in Harvard China Competition

Delegates from the Academy of the Holy Angels convened with competitors from around the world at the 12th Harvard China Model United Nations Conference. By the end of the four-day Zoom event held August 17-21, AHA’s trio had turned in three notable performances and garnered two medals.


“Caroline Dupas took first place (Best Delegate) in her committee and Elise Tao tied for second place (Outstanding Delegate) in her committee. Francesca Rizzo did this as her first conference ever and I was so proud of her performance as well!” AHA Model UN Moderator Jennifer Cucchisi reported.

AHA MUN Senior Co-president Caroline Dupas of Pearl River, New York, has earned multiple honors as a delegate. This year, as she participated in her second consecutive Harvard China event, she represented Portugal in the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Committee sessions were held early in the morning or late at night to accommodate competitors in multiple time zones. Dupas said she felt well prepared, since she is a veteran of this event.
“Harvard China is absolutely one of my favorite conferences and high school experiences because it adds a new dimension to an international activity like Model UN,” Dupas added. “We are no longer acting as countries, but also forming relationships with people from other countries, making it an experience I won’t forget.”
Like her teammates, Dupas spends many hours researching and preparing for competition. She also writes a position paper to frame key points she can use in her speeches. There is, however, another key to this competitor’s ongoing achievements.

“I truly believe authenticity is an overlooked factor when it comes to success in Model UN, and one I hope is central in my performance,” Dupas noted. “Sportsmanship, collaboration, and learning from others are factors the chairs of conferences constantly emphasize, and I think others can tell when someone is attempting to temporarily embody those values for an award versus when those reasons are why someone loves to do Model UN. Participation and speaking skills will help you stand out as a debater, but standing out as a diplomat revolves around how you treat others and why you are there.”
Elise Tao, a member of the Class of 2024, is head delegate in charge of training for AHA. This Upper Saddle River resident called HMUN China one of her best memories from summer.
“(H)aving the opportunity to interact with delegates from all around the world made the long hours up early in the morning and late at night worth it,” she stated. “I represented the country of Portugal at the UNESCO committee, in which the topic of discussion was the use of GMOs. In Model UN, one must be able to articulate and formulate a speech in a matter of seconds, a skill that I was definitely able to practice even further at this conference.
“What compels me to compete (and I would go as far as to say motivates my participation in Model UN as a whole) is the ability for me to grow as a debater, thinker, diplomat, and in a special way, a writer,” Tao said. While the formal, legislative writing she uses for MUN is a change from her typical poetry and prose, competing and brainstorming with others have helped her develop specificity, detail, and clarity in every form of communication.
Francesca Rizzo of Paramus plans to pursue a career that will involve a good deal of public speaking. She joined Model UN as a ninth grader to build confidence and oral presentation skills. At her first conference, Rizzo represented Portugal in the United Nations Development Programme Committee. As the event began, she took time to observe and learn from experienced competitors. 


“Ms. Cucchisi definitely gave me some great advice: Sometimes just observing is equally as important as speaking,” Rizzo said, noting that she soon jumped into the conversation. “Although I did not participate as much as I would have liked to this past conference, I know that now having the experience under my belt, I can only become a more confident and successful delegate in future committees. I am looking forward to facing new challenges and new experiences head on with a whole new level of confidence!”


Harvard China is sponsored by Harvard’s International Relations Council and Alpha Partners Education, which is located in Beijing. However, speeches and discussions are held in English. 


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds.