The Gradual Ascent: A student’s journey through the ranks of PANAMUN

by Vanessa Jacome


With a new year comes new challenges and responsibilities. As the world slowly emerges from the lingering shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, PANAMUN XXIX has been able to return (to a certain extent) to an in-person conference. With a big effort by our secretariat, faculty and the rest of our student body, there has been a smooth return. While some are veterans of the intimidating in-person conference, others recently became involved during our extended period of virtual communication. From virtual to in-person there has been a big leap, and some people have stepped up to the challenge. Last year’s Daily Gavel reported on the virtual experience of a first time admin; junior Marian Cajiga. Now a senior, Marian has taken a risk and is now the chair of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). A year later, her new interview gives us insight into how a student’s journey through different roles has turned out.



What are your previous experiences with PANAMUN?

I’ve been in PANAMUN since I was in 8th grade. I’ve been a delegate, an admin, and now I’m a chair which are 3 totally different roles. I’ve had the experience of meeting new people and finding leadership as well as developing public speaking skills. It has been a wonderful experience since I have been able to overcome my fears.


What led you to sign up as a chair and not as an admin?

I decided to sign up as a chair because I wanted to challenge myself and try something new. Since it’s my last year in PANAMUN I wanted to take a different role in the conference and I thought it would be good to try a leadership position in order to share my experiences with other delegates.


How does your virtual experience compare to your in-person experience so far?

I prefer in-person over virtual since I can communicate and interact with others. I can also make the conference run smoothly since virtual can become dull and awkward while in real life you can interact with new people and create a better debate environment.


How are you feeling leading up to the conference?

I’m kind of nervous since it’s my first time being a chair but I’m also pretty excited for this new experience since it’ll help me put the skills I’ve developed in PANAMUN to use. It’s still a little complicated since we still have some of the conference online; since my co-chair is foreign, the organization will be a little different but I’m still excited to be in person.


How do you feel now that you have a greater responsibility?

I feel that I’m in a greater position and more responsible for others since I need to embrace the role of a leader. I also need to collaborate with my co-chair while also helping delegates be engaged in their work. If they’re struggling through the process, I need to be there for them in order to help them have a great experience in PANAMUN.


This is Marian’s last PANAMUN and she is glad to have taken such an active role in the conference. Marian has been at ISP since Pre-Kinder and she is involved in many clubs such as United Women, Make a Wish, and the GSA. As she leaves ISP and her mark on the conference, hopefully her steady rise in leadership over the years will inspire incoming delegates to do the same.



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