Double trouble: Chase Pellegrini and Nicole Vanderlee win MUN gavel

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Leigh Charlton, News Editor
@leighcourant

When sophomores Chase Pellegrini and Nicole Vanderlee boarded the bus to the Georgetown Model UN Conference in Washington, DC, they were already focused on success. After three days of negotiating and giving speeches, that concentration payed off as the “Dream Team” double delegation took DISEC, the largest room at the conference, by storm. Chase and Nicole were subsequently honored with the “Best Delegate” award.

History teacher and Model UN club advisor Paul Phillips helped to put their achievement into perspective. “Georgetown is the toughest and biggest conference in the country,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s like the Nationals, and the toughest room is the room that they won. It’s a big deal that they got the best delegate in the DISEC room because it’s about 350 kids in double delegations. There are really strong kids in there, and it’s hard to stand out in a room that big.”

Sophomores Chase Pellegrini and Nicole Vanderlee used their focus and team skills to succeed at Georgetown. Photo by Meera Srinivasan

For Chase, merely being at the Georgetown conference was an incredible experience. “My favorite thing about MUN is meeting new people. Each conference has a different mix of personalities and views,” Chase said. “This year at Georgetown there were schools from Costa Rica, China, and all over the world. Many of the delegates spoke very limited English, and it was amazing to me that it did not stop anyone from passionately sharing their views on any given topic.”

A huge factor in Chase and Nicole’s success was their team dynamic. “I could not have asked for a better partner,” Nicole sad. “Chase and I have worked together before and we are good friends, so we were very excited to work together. We communicated so well and were able to multitask efficiently. We trusted each other really well and had so much fun together.”

Chase believed that another component to their strength was their effective teamwork, one of Model UN’s essential skills. “I think that teamwork is the key to success in MUN,” Chase said. “In a partner committee like the one Nicole and I were in, it’s so important that both partners are able to step into any necessary roles. It’s also significant that we were able to effectively work with a huge group of people.”

Mr. Phillips also noted that Chase and Nicole have complementary skill sets, which allowed them to be strong in multiple areas. “One thing that Nicole is very good at is strong negotiating,” Mr. Phillips said. “One thing that Chase is very good at is presenting in a very charismatic way. The two of them were a nice combination. You had the negotiator and the presenter, and they worked out between the two of them what their strengths were and they both played to their strengths.”

Many of the skills that Nicole and Chase developed in Model UN have helped them in real life scenarios. “The teamwork and public speaking skills you develop from MUN can be used almost anywhere. Especially in many jobs, public speaking and teamwork skills are really important,” Nicole said. “When you’re working on a project with your co-workers you need to work collaboratively but you also need to be competitive and look out for yourself.”

In terms of the future for Chase and Nicole, it is uncertain whether they will be working together agains. “If it was all about the awards, of course they would work together again. They are a dream team,” Mr. Phillips said. “I’d like to see them both succeed as individual delegates as well because they’re both strong enough to do that; they’re both great delegates. However, if it was all about awards and winning the big room every year, then I would keep them together.”

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Hi, I'm Leigh. I'm a news editor at the Courant and a junior at the high school. Follow me on Twitter- @leighcourant.

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