As temperatures rose in New England last week, 44 middle and high school students convened in the air conditioned classrooms of the Harvard Business School for a week of intensive global diplomacy training at the UNA-GB’s Model United Nations Summer Institute. These budding global leaders chose to trade in traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding in order to debate, negotiate, and create resolutions to the world’s most pressing issues, honing the skills they will need as global citizens and leaders in the 21st century.
The students kicked off the week with ice breakers and activities geared towards understanding the UN and learning about the complexities of human rights law. These activities taught the students effective debate skills, such as listening to each other and learning to respect and draw attention from the other delegates during the simulations. Throughout the week, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum and simulations focused on terrorism and Human Rights. They had the unique opportunity to learn about the UN’s parliamentary procedure, formal debate vocabulary and how to complete high-level research through actual simulated debate and role play.
For the full simulation on Friday, the students teamed up in pairs to represent a UN member state in the General Assembly, allowing them the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of UN delegates and present their country’s position on conflict diamonds. This involved significant group work and alliance building among countries in order to come up with possible solutions. These solutions were translated into UN resolutions that were then debated and voted on by all countries.
In order to create a resolution, the students had to recognize and understand the complexity of each global issue and they had to take into account the various economic and political implications a resolution would have on different countries. They also had to reach a compromise amid widely conflicting country interests, from Zimbabwe to the UK to China.
The dedication, seriousness and excitement exhibited by the students throughout the week was impressive and inspiring to all staff and adults in attendance. It was a real treat to see how realistic and impressive the debates were, and how the youth, no matter their age, were cooperative, motivated and committed to crafting feasible resolutions to modern day global challenges of terrorism and conflict diamonds.
We want to thank all of these future global leaders for giving up a week of their summer vacation to tackle the world’s pressing global challenges and to learn critical 21st century skills, all while having fun and building valuable friendships. We hope to see some familiar faces next summer and at the Model UN programs during the year!
Stay tuned for student testimonies and additional feedback from the second session, to be held from July 9-July 13, serving 45 more young global advocates!
– Julia Kuperminc and Catherine Schrage
One of the inevitable rituals that comes with going back to school is sharing what you did on your summer vacation with your fellow classmates. Is working towards solving the world’s most pressing global challenges, such as child marriage, immigration, and human rights a common story?
For the 39 rising 8th-12th graders who attended our first ever Model UN Summer Camp, held at Harvard Business School in July, the answer is yes. We asked a handful of our summer campers to share about their camp experience and how it feels to be working towards becoming the next generation of global advocates. Learn more about the week here and consider sharing information about next year’s camp with a young person in your life!
Raheem, 11th grade
I am from: I live in Rosendale, MA; that’s where I was born, but my mom is actually from Singapore. She is from an Arab background, and she grew up there in Singapore.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: I have always been interested in international relations, so this is a great way to learn about some of the current issues today.
What I have learned from this program: I have learned about current issues in different countries such as child marriage, and also the role of peacekeepers in the UN, so doing those simulations really helped me to learn more about those different aspects.
What I liked the most about this program: It is so much more engaging type of learning than just hearing about things on the news, so I really enjoyed it. I think the public speaking aspect that we focus on a lot really helps a lot.
This program will help me with my future goals: Before this I didn’t think international relations was really up there, but now I may be considering it in the future. I have not done much public speaking before, so wasn’t really used to it, but such a big part of it was based on public speaking that I think I have gotten much better in it.
I would suggest this program to other students: I think that all sort of kids would like it whether they like to speak out or not, they learn a lot would really broadened their horizons based on politics.
Christina, 11th grade
I am from: Malden, MA
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: I came to Model UN Camp to be better at public speaking and further my education in international relations.
What I have learned from this program: I have learned a lot of things I have not known before that I would need to take to the future with me.
I liked the most about this program: How we came from all over the world to the debate and the caucuses, and the different roles there are.
This program will help me with my future goals: In the future I hope to go into maybe something in law, maybe history, so either way Model UN will help me.
I would suggest this program to other students: Advice that I give is to come prepared and be open. Don’t be shy about it because everyone is at the same position – come and learn and just be ready to do it.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: I have always been interested in international relations. My school is an international school, so there are lots of kids from all over. I have always been completely fascinated by the different cultural backgrounds and the way countries interact and politics that unite them.
What I have learned from this program: I will learn more about how to express myself and how to debate…How to argue convincingly from point when I don’t completely agree with that point. The thing about being diplomat is you represent a country and a body of people and that’s very important because not everyone’s voice can be heard at any global situation. I want to learn about different countries and different policies.
What I liked the most about this program: Learning from and hearing about what other people have to say, along with meeting new people.
This program will help me with my future goals: When I am older I would love to be a diplomat. Interactions between people and countries in the world are fascinating, and someday I want to make a positive difference in it.
I would suggest this program to other students: It is important for someone to represent because otherwise those people’s voices won’t be heard.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: This year I am a class president of my club at my high school and I really want to further my knowledge of the UN and learn about its operations and policies as well as that I hope for a career in the UN someday.
What I have learned from this program: My experience at the Model UN UNA-GB Summer Camp was extraordinary. It [provided] me with experience to become a better public speaker and debater. Some of the nature of the issues, which I would want to deal with, would be the global economy crisis…as well as human rights.
I liked the most about this program: I made a lot of new friends. I learned how to become a much more effective and efficient delegate in future Model UN Competitions.
This program will help me with my future goals: I want to represent people who typically, normally speak up for themselves and to defend them. My dream job would be to become a politician either for the United States or to represent the United States in the UN because I care a lot about people. It has made me want to become even more involved in international politics; I believe it will help me when applying to some colleges.
I would suggest this program to other students: I think it is important for teenagers my age to join this program, so that way they will realize that they are going to be affected by human rights or some other law or other aspect which the UN discusses.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: Because I really did not know about the UN. I thought that I could actually learn how the UN works, what the UN really is, what they really do. I want to learn more about modern day issues and human rights.
What I have learned from this program: Paying attention is definitely a key part of this camp. It really helps with public speaking. I learned how to debate. I actually was not really that good in it and I have improved a lot.
What I liked the most about this program: Parliamentary procedures… It was actually my favorite part in the whole class. I had almost no idea when I came here, but now I really understand it.
This program will help me with my future goals: When I joined the camp I thought it will be an interesting thing to know about…I actually don’t know exactly what my career would be, but I think it definitely will help me. It is a very important thing nowadays because all these issues and human rights are a big thing today.
I would suggest this program to other students: It was very accelerating, hard at some points, but I thought it was fun and very educational overall.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp to: Improve my speaking skills and actually learn to give out my opinions, my suggestions more because before I had a hard time putting out my personal views on certain topics.
What I have learned from this program: It has been a great experience understanding and learning more and getting to touch up on everything I have learned before. The Summer Camp has just expanded my level of understanding of how to give out more information about the certain topics that I understand and how to speak to other people sharing my views with others. I learned everything from child marriage to migrant workers and their struggles to basics of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What I liked the most about this program: [It is] giving me the chance to actually meet with other students from other schools and other countries and cities, which gives me a broader understanding of their different views on different topics being discussed.
This program will help me with my future goals: It changed my life because growing up I always knew I wanted to do something that was bigger than me – something that did not just have to do with me helping myself, but helping others. And the Model UN simulation just gives you the feeling that it is okay to want to get out of the comfort zone, to say I want to go beyond myself, and I want to help others in the process.
I have always wanted to be a pediatrician. That’s always been in my plan book, but I want to intertwine that with traveling – I want to travel to help those in need, maybe kids in the other parts of the world that cannot get the aid that they need for those specialized areas.
I would suggest this program to other students: This program is amazing because it is actually improving your social capability and your ability to learn and share with others what you learned. It is a great experience to come to the summer camp because it sharpens your learning abilities and what you know about American history and about the issues in general. It is the beginning, opening the door to helping others, and understanding what the world is made out of.
I decided to join the Model UN Summer Camp because: I thought it was a great opportunity to come to a beautiful city like Boston and practice and learn some things about Model United Nations that I did not know before.
What I have learned from this program: I have learned a lot of things about international relations and child rights and human rights that I would have never known if I would have never came to this program. Mediating with other countries is always the best way to fix things.
What I liked the most about this program: It sets a great platform for your future aspirations to go farther than Model United Nations, and I would suggest it to any Model UN students.
This program will help me with my future goals: Overall I would like to make the world a better place. There is a lot of turmoil in the world. And it is only one person, but if one person affects three, two people, that is already life well spent. I am aspiring to go to college at Boston University and go to the international relations school and maybe become an ambassador to another country from the United States. And the prior information that I have learned from this program will surely help to reach that goal.
I would suggest this program to other students: Whether you are experienced or not in the Model United Nations field, you can learn some things that you did not know or if you just completely new to the Model UN, you can learn everything you really need to know.
This past week, UNA-GB broke new ground by hosting our first ever Model UN Summer Institute! We had nearly 40 youth forgo traditional camp activities like archery, swimming and horse-back riding to participate in a brand new week long camp, working towards becoming the next generation of global advocates, while also experiencing life on a prestigious graduate school campus.
From July 11-15, 39 rising 8th-12th graders immersed themselves in the world of Model UN and worked towards solving the world’s most pressing global challenges at Harvard Business School. From 9am to 4pm each day of the five-day institute, students were introduced to international relations and critical 21st century skills like negotiation, public speaking and problem-solving through the lens of Model United Nations curriculum, with a culminating simulation of the UN General Assembly Disarmament and International Security Committee focused on international peacekeeping operations. Some of these lessons and activities the students participated included:
- Analyzing international and historical concepts like the international system, nuclear proliferation and the Cold War, and major players on the world stage and newcomers to the scene.
- Engaging in public speaking and team building exercises that urged students to think on the spot, deliver eloquent speeches, and socialize with other students.
- Learning the ins and outs of the actual parliamentary procedure used by the United Nations today; consequently practiced composing resolutions, using vocabulary such as “points” and “motions”, and voting procedure.
- Exploring the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women while understanding the impact UN milestones have on the international stage.
- Writing draft resolutions and representing their individual country’s view on the issue of Child Marriage.
By the end of the week, students were well versed in the workings of the United Nations and formal debate, confident in their public speaking, and had made strong bonds with other students sharing their passion for international relations and world issues. Friday’s simulation came with much anticipation as students arrived to the conference room in business casual attire, eager to attack the day’s proceedings (though bittersweet as well, since it signaled the pending end of camp). Heavy debate, draft resolutions, and a motion to close debate and end the simulation mixed in with a few laughs and photos characterized the finalization of the MUN Summer Camp and a week the students, and the UNA-GB staff and interns, will not forget.
Don’t just take our word for it! Check out photos, videos, live tweets and learn more about the week! And stay tuned for some additional videos coming out featuring more highlights and interviews with the students, as well as a guest blog post from one of the campers.
A special thank you goes to National Grid, one of our fabulous corporate sponsors who offered 10 scholarships for students to attend this year’s camp!
We also hope we can offer additional sessions of camp next year, so more of our future leaders have a chance to step into the shoes of ambassadors!