2,555 days have passed yet the treasured experience of PANAMUN is still present in Julian Atehortua’s life- the secretary general of the year 2010. This conference was channeled straight to his career, as he mentioned “I attribute a lot of my success professionally and in college applications, etc. to my involvement in PANAMUN.”
In 2008 as a 10th grader, Atehortua’s PANAMUN experience began as a delegate. He stated, “When I did MUN first, as a delegate, to be honest I didn’t care much about the organization (i.e., the UN) in general. I did it, to be honest, because there was a cute girl in class that was doing it and 8th grade me thought that I would somehow get a girlfriend by joining. I was wrong, but also came across something I became very passionate about.” The following year he continued at a higher position, as a chair. Since this first conference one of his main aspirations was to become the Secretary General of PANAMUN. During his senior year this dream came true, as he had dedicated a lot of time and participated in a lot of leadership roles in his extracurriculars in order to gain the experience needed to preside over PANAMUN XVIII.
The creativity and hard work that goes into choosing a variety of topics for PANAMUN annually, makes each conference distinct from previous years as well as engaging for the ISP delegates and those who came from guest schools. Atehortua quoted, “One thing I struggled with was figuring out how to manage my interpersonal relationships and balance them with the responsibilities of the position – for example, being strict on my friends and being a fair leader.” This was definitely a growing experience he was able to learn from, which had a profound impact and helped him greatly in his future career.
Something fascinating is that although Atehortua has not kept in touch with many of his high school friends, those he does keep in touch with were all involved in PANAMUN. After graduating from ISP Atehortua attended Harvard University, in which he was President of the Harvard Association Cultivating Inter-American Democracy (HACIA) during his senior year. He declared, “I ended up serving as President of HACIA my senior year, a pretty striking parallel, and was able to use a lot of what I learned at PANAMUN in that experience. My experiences at PANAMUN were exactly what I needed to confront that challenge.”An additional detail he mentioned about his role as president in this conference was, “When I was president of HACIA we launched the first-ever Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, where we granted a cash prize to the delegates that could come up with the best social impact initiative. We promised to fund their project, and thus used HACIA as a vehicle through which to enact positive change in our delegates’ communities. Though I’ve since graduated college, I understand this initiative continues today.”
There are several changes Atehortua wanted to initiate during his time as SG, including increasing the size of the committees, moving the conference to a hotel instead of having it at ISP, adding more topics as well as chairs, and improving the annual videos shown. Many of these changes, that Atehortua wanted to implement were actually implemented over the years. As there has been a tremendous increase in the number and sizes of the committees and topics discussed, over the years. Additionally, the school campus has grown enormously, and we have the addition of the Performing Arts Center (PAC), allowing for there to be a large space for all delegates and staff to unite for the opening and closing ceremonies. The presentations and entertainment during these ceremonies have improved greatly due to the aid of the facilities provided by the PAC. For this reason it was ultimately decided to keep PANAMUN in ISP, and never move the conference to a hotel, as it is fully equipt to host the conference and provides a formal environment, giving the setting of an actual General Assembly.
PANAMUN harnessed and honed Atehortua’s skills, this was transmitted to his career and helped significantly in shaping him as an individual. It clarified his objectives and made clear the significant changes he sought to achieve in the world. As Atehortua stated himself PANAMUN helped him with the encounter of this devotion to creating innovations and advancements to our nation, which can enact true transformation. He now works in an investment bank in New York, showing how participating in PANAMUN has a massive influence on student’s future professions and lives. PANAMUN is not a plain highschool conference, but it sparks the optimism in individuals to strive towards a better future; it is the catalyst for ideas which can evolve into major advancements all across the world.