Blog Archives

Motion to Reflect: 2012 Model UN Summer Institute Session 1 Recap

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

United Nations Day 2011: In Everyone’s Interest

Each year on October 24 we honor the the day in 1945 when the United Nations Charter came into effect. Each UN Day, throughout the globe, the efforts of the United Nations are recognized and celebrated.

This year, marking the 66th anniversary of the UN, the theme for UN Day is: “UN Day: In Everyone’s Interest.” The United Nations delivers everything from: peace and democracy with over 120,000 troops and personnel deployed to 15 peacekeeping missions; as well as, promoting human rights; to building economic prosperity; and, advancing global health.

Here at UNA-GB we too celebrate this special day each year. This year, beginning on Monday of next week we have several events you can attend to show your support for the important global organization. On October 24, UNA-GB will hold a UN Day Celebration and Model UN Simulation at the Massachusetts State House.  The event will begin with UNA-GB raising the UN Flag at Boston City Hall  to fly over Boston for the week and will read the City of Boston’s UN Day Proclamation, signed by Mayor Menino. Next, 100 Boston area middle and high school students and additional guests will head over to the Massachusetts State House for a Model UN simulation.  The students will step into ambassadors’ shoes from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, China and Russia to debate the pervasive problem of gender inequality globally, and answer the question: Why do global inequalities for women in education and employment persist and what can be done about it?
Carol Fulp, 2011 Massachusetts UN Day Chair; SVP of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, John Hancock Financial; and US Representative to the 65th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (appointed by President Obama in Fall 2010) will give opening remarks at the Simulation and Governor Deval Patrick has been invited to read his 2011 UN Day Massachusetts proclamation.

You can also show your support on the 24th by heading into one of the award winning local bakery Sweet Cupcakes and purchase a specially made UN Day cupcake at one of Sweet’s four locations around Boston: Back Bay, 49 Massachusetts Ave; 225 Newbury Street; Harvard Square: Zero Brattle Street; Downtown: 11 School Street. Cupcakes will also be provided to students at the Model UN simulation!

Occurring simultaneously on the 24th, cities and towns throughout Massachusetts from Westwood to Yarmouth will be submitting proclamations supporting the UN. Proclamations range in content but all provide resounding support for the mission and work of the UN globally and the work UNA-GB is doing locally in the community.

Ending the week we will be holding our annual UN Day Luncheon on Friday, October 28 which gathers leaders from the business, policy, and academic communities in the Greater Boston area for an engaging dialogue on world affairs and an opportunity to network with other globally conscious individuals and organizations. This year our keynote speaker will be Gillian Sorensen, Senior Adviser at the United Nations Foundation and former Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations.  Sorensen has distinguished career at the UN serving two Secretaries-General, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. During her service Sorensen was responsible for 4,000 non-governmental organizations, and is also an ardent advocate to the US/UN relationship. Sorensen’s remarks will focus on “The UN and You: Global Citizenship in the 21st Century”.

This year at the Luncheon we will also be introducing our first-ever Global Corporate Citizenship honor roll recognizing the more than 30 Massachusetts-based companies who have signed on to key business principles through the UN Global Compact. We believe it is important to highlight the leaders in our community making a difference around sustainable development and corporate citizenship. Funds raised through ticket sales and sponsorships at the Luncheon directly support UNA-GB’s community events and class-room based programs, which serves more than 5,000 participants annually in greater Boston. This years sponsors include: Clark University Graduate School of Management; British School of Boston; GGA Software Services, LLC; New England College of Business and Finance; Ocean Spray; and our 2011-2012 Education Program sponsor National Grid.

Our Campus Ambassadors will also be celebrating UN Day at their respective universities throughout the month. At Northeastern University there is a two week celebration with events, starting already this past week including a movie screening of “The Whistleblower,” on Sunday, October 16 followed by a discussion of the importance of speaking up in difficult situations and possible resulting reforms.  At the beginning of this week, there will be a screening of “Seeds of Peace,” which will kick off a week of various programs including panel discussions with the film maker. Positive Foundations at Brandeis University will be hosting a panel discussion on the importance of literacy and education in developing countries. Other universities such as Boston College, Tufts University and Suffolk University will also be holding celebratory events.

It’s not too late to get involved in many of our UN Day events! You can still purchase tickets to our UN Day Luncheon on the 28th and join us for the UN flag raising and mini-simulation on the 24th!

Help us celebrate 66 years of peace, justice and prosperity with the UN and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally!

-UNA-GB staff

A Needed Voice For Women

It’s Monday! Here’s this week’s post for our Get Educated, One Blog At A Time blog series! This week you can read about gender equality and women’s rights in the Middle East. Also, check out our past blog posts from the series, including: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World”, “The Rural Challenge” and “Help Starts Young”

The issues of female rights and gender equality in the Middle East exist as challenges the UN, activists, citizens, and many others are currently trying to correct. Most Middle Eastern countries follow the Islamic religion, laying the foundation for what some have interpreted as female obedience and submission to men. These countries have expanded upon and even created rules for women that mimic religious fanaticism. As Middle Eastern/Arab countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq are now preoccupied with the issue of the Arab Springs and the political and social changes engulfing their country, women’s rights are being pushed to the backburner as insignificant worries. Nevertheless, gender equality remains an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The absence of gender equality in the Middle East is apparent in social restrictions, cultural regulations, politics, and lack of economic rights and opportunity that women experience in this region everyday. According to the laws of Islam, the separation of genders is necessary because women have the ability to tempt men through improper behavior. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women and men are not allowed to use/occupy the public library at the same time. Also, females are required to dress “modestly” in many of these countries so as to conceal their bodies for their husband and prevent temptation: women in both Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir region in India have been threatened, beaten, and unfairly treated for not wearing the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body and leaves little holes for the eyes. In terms of politics, women are restricted from roles of power and authority that are believed to belong to men. Laws protecting women from physical abuse and sexual abuse within a marriage are rare. Relating to Middle Eastern women’s inability to hold positions of power, economic opportunities such as entrepreneurship and leading a company are almost impossible dreams.

UN Documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stand as milestones for the efforts international gender equality. Both documents have councils that are in charge of monitoring the progress of those countries that have ratified them with regards to gender equality. Ensuring that each individual country is making progressive strides towards female empowerment are the committees’ primary concerns. While the UDHR states rights as “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”, CEDAW is aimed at specifically ensuring female empowerment, equality, and opportunities worldwide. While gender inequality is still very much a reality of our world today, countries like Kuwait (gave women the right to vote and run for office in 2005) and Bahrain (now allows for the appointment of female judges) are making significant strides towards ending this injustice and promoting the equality we each deserve, gender aside.

-Amanda

Help Starts Young

Here’s another post for our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series! This week you can learn about Child Poverty throughout the world and the efforts being made to help the fight against child poverty and child labor so that future generations can develop. You can also check out our past blog posts to learn about more global topics: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World” and “The Rural Challenge”. Check back next Monday for another blog post!

About 45 % of children in Latin America and the Caribbean live in a state of poverty.

his means that child poverty affects nearly 81 million children and adolescents in these regions of the world! As defined by the UN General Assembly in 2007, child poverty is “the deprivation of nutrition, water and sanitation facilities, access to basic health-care services, shelter, education, participation, and protection”. Nutrition is immensely important in a child’s life for lack of it can cause damage in early childhood and have harmful long-term effects on the child’s health. Despite this, about 30 million children are born each year with impaired growth due to poor nutrition. Possible solutions to unhealthy diets include proper education on healthy eating habits and income support (healthy food tends to cost more than unhealthy substitutes).

Education, including that learned in school and from one’s social interactions and environment, can be a means of escaping poverty because it improves the chances that the child will have a good income and be able to afford the necessities denied him/her by poverty. Unfortunately, a child’s ability to receive a quality education is largely based on the family’s finances, seeing as how an education costs money. Sadly, a family’s low financial status increases the chances of the child being forced into child labor so as to help support the family and himself/herself. While working as a child can make school for the individual possible (working for the money that will fund their education), child labor can also be a means of a child getting stuck in poverty by hurting the child’s health or keeping him/her tied down by low-skilled work. However, child labor that offers the child the ability of a formal education or out of poverty and is not dangerous to the child is not the worst option. As a country, it is important to determine the nature of the child labor before completely banning what may, in fact, be helping.

A range of factors contributes to child poverty. An example of such are the natural disasters that constantly plague the Caribbean, leaving the countries in disrepair and economic strife. The fact that children are not represented in policies to the same extent as adults also allows child poverty to prevail because they are not being protected by laws or governments. Despite the various contributors to child poverty, one theory remains quite evident: the failure to effectively end child poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean produces a cycle of hardship that passes on to generations while further limiting the future opportunities for these children.

United Nations milestones such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted in 1989) and the establishment of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1946 have made great strides to dealing with and eventually ending child poverty. Defined by UNICEF, the Convention is “an international treaty that recognizes the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of 18 years old”. The Committee on the Rights of the Child ensures that countries are working towards “ensuring that all children have access to education and healthcare, the ability to reach their potential and abilities, grow up in a positive environment of love and happiness, and benefit from protection and assistance”. UNICEF has participated in much humanitarian work aimed at child poverty and works through TACRO (UNICEF’s regional office for the Americas and the Caribbean) to support and work with other organizations like the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization in order to advocate for good nutrition practices in Latin America and the Caribbean. Overall, although child poverty remains an issue of international affairs, the UN and its organizations continue to work towards the cease of this epidemic.

-Amanda

The Rural Challenge

Another week has just begun and today we have our weekly blog post from our Get Educated, One Topic At A Time blog series. This week learn about rural development in today’s world, including the benefits and challenges it introduces to areas around the world in rural areas with the need for development for a brighter future. Check out our other blog posts in the series, including: “Creating A Road To Democracy”, “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority” and “A Reform For The World”.  Check back next Monday for a new post on a whole new topic to ‘get educated’ on!

Approximately 1.7 billion people live in absolute poverty today. According to the World Bank, about 75% of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. Rural development is an important international step, not only to reduce poverty, but also to ensure food security and foster agricultural growth worldwide.

The World Bank defines rural development as “improving the living standards of the low-income population residing in rural areas and making the process of their development self-sustaining.” This definition is driven by concerns over the increasing of rural poverty and the increased focus on improving the socioeconomic well-being of the poor through sustainable improvements. However, rural development faces structural problems such as proper transportation of food, lack of physical and social infrastructure, and underemployment in the rural workforce. This impedes growth, development, and poverty reduction in rural areas.

In 1990, the World Bank adopted an economic strategy of “poverty reducing growth” that created opportunities to earn income and improve services for the poor. This leads to a diversity of local services that will in turn lead to “balanced and sustainable rural economic growth and food security.” There is also a need to promote equal opportunity for competition, by favoring small enterprise over large, urban-based enterprise and to concentrate on rural communities.

Rural women in many countries, like in Kenya, play a central role in managing natural resources.

Rural women and children are significantly affected by poverty. In developing countries, women make up about 43% of the agriculture labour force. They work as wage labourers, sell produce, and participate in small-scale trading. In developing countries such as Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women work an average of 12 more hours each week than men. However, women are held back by low education, unequal property right laws and limited access to resources. Rural children are affected by child labour. 70% of all child labour in the world, which is equal to about 150 million children, takes place in agriculture. Child labour is often difficult to track or underreported and there is no clear defined difference between child labour and children working to help their families. It is also difficult to directly challenge and eliminate when children make up about one-third of the agriculture work force. Thus, policies attempt to improve overall working conditions and reduce safety hazards, as well as improve access to education for children. Nevertheless, the main root of child labour lies in rural poverty.

Currently, changes in agricultural markets are providing new opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their productivity, especially in developing countries. But, the 2011 Rural Poverty Report of the IFAD says that there still remains “an urgent need…to invest more and better in agriculture and rural areas.” International actions by the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the UN Millennium Development Goals stress the challenges in rural development, but also provide frameworks to increase rural employment and smallholder agriculture and reiterate the goal of halving the number of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

-Yun-Hee

Ambassadors for a Week: Not Your Average Summer Camp

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

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, videoslive 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!

-Amanda

Meet Our Summer 2011 Interns!

With the summer semester in full swing,
UNA-GB is pleased to introduce our latest team of interns!

Chris Asmar

Education Intern

I am a rising senior at Boston College where I am majoring in Political Science and Islamic Civilization and Societies.  I spent this past semester studying abroad in the Middle East at the American University of Kuwait, where I earned a Certificate in Gulf Studies.  I have been involved with Model United Nations in different ways since my freshman year in high school, and will serve as President of the Boston College Model United Nations for the 2011-2012 academic year.  After graduation, I see myself working either in Foreign Service for the US State Department or for an NGO like Amnesty International.

Nicolas Blake

Education Intern

I am from Berkley, Massachusetts and am an International Studies major at American University in Washington, DC. I am interested in politics – both national and international – economics, and United States foreign policy. I first developed an interest in international affairs while at Somerset High School through participating in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, including those sponsored by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB). Based on my own experience in developing academic and professional goals through participation in MUN, I hope to contribute to the UNA-GB’s mission of extending such opportunities to other New England students.  In my free time, I am a proud citizen of Red Sox Nation and consumer of Mad Men DVD’s.

Annie Burrows

Education Intern

I grew up in Brookline and attended public school there.  I went to Connecticut College in New London for my undergraduate degree and then spent a year in Spain studying for my masters in bilingual and multicultural education. I’ve lived in Madrid, Seville, Santiago (DR), and Costa Rica. I speak Spanish and I’m hoping to learn French some day as well. I’m hoping to go to graduate school in the United States or England within the next couple of years, hopefully for International Relations, Higher Education Administration, or some combination of the two. I love to dance, learn about different cultures, try new types of food (eat in general), and play board games.

James Fargher

Education Intern

Born in the United States to British parents, I have been lucky enough
to live both in the US and in Europe and to be a dual citizen.
Currently, I live on Cape Cod and am student at Drew University in New Jersey working towards my BA in History, with minors in Politics, European studies, and possibly French. I have been an avid fan of Model UN, both in high school and university, and take a great interest in international security and strategic studies. Ultimately I hope to earn my Ph.D. in History and rejoin the rest of my family in the UK, working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, canoeing and music, as well as unashamedly loving board games and murder mystery TV shows.

Amanda Gonzalez

Education Intern

“¡Hola! I am from New York City, the Bronx to be specific, and was
raised in a Puerto Rican-American household. I have made my way to
Boston University from the inner-city school system of New York and will be beginning my last year of undergraduate studies in September. I am currently studying International Relations with a focus on Europe, Business and Economics, and a minor in the Spanish language. I am very excited to be interning with the UNAGB as an education intern this summer as working with the organization hits a passion close to home. Throughout
my academic career I was never exposed to Model of the UN nor international affairs, that is until I came to BU. Now I have the opportunity to educate students on the international affairs, simulations, and Model of the UN conferences that I was unfortunately not exposed to. The earlier we educate and expose the youth of today on the importance of international cooperation, the more promising and capable the adults and world of tomorrow!”

Smriti Kattel

Programs Intern

I was born and grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal, and moved to Boston with my family after high school. I am a senior at Boston University, majoring in International Relations, and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I have lived through the Nepali Civil War, and the rocky ongoing transition to democracy. Having thus witnessed firsthand what a difference the UN makes in the world, I am a passionate supporter of the UN and UNA-GB. Having lived in both Nepal and the U.S., I see my life as a project of integrating these two very beautiful, yet very different cultures.

Yun-Hee Kim

Education Intern

I was born in Germany, but spent the first half of my childhood in New Jersey. Afterwards, I attended middle and high school in Seoul, Korea. Now, I am currently a rising senior at Tufts University. I major in International Relations and have a minor in English. I recently studied abroad for a semester in Madrid, Spain to improve my fluency with Spanish. After I graduate, I hope to work in governmental foreign affairs or with international organizations. I enjoy reading and writing about my travels, as well as cooking and learning about foods from different countries.

Cara Koenigsberg

Programs Intern

I just graduated a few weeks ago from Suffolk University with a BSBA degree in Global Business and Management. I’m originally from Rumson, New Jersey. I’ve spent my entire life traveling between the US and Italy to visit family, am fluent in English and Italian, and have studied Spanish. I started studying abroad at a young age, to boost my love of traveling, spending a portion of a summer while in high school studying in Cambridge, England, later followed by another summer and year studying abroad in Rome, Italy while in college. While studying abroad in Italy for a year, I also had three internship experiences with focuses in International Affairs and International Travel. I look forward to my internship experience at UNA-GB this summer, with a focus in Social Media, to give me more opportunities to be exposed to the global world as I begin my global career and choose my ‘post-grad’ path, a path that will definitely have an international twist and allow me to travel the world.

Lorianne Lopez

Programs Intern

Studying international relations and learning about different cultures have always been  passions of mine. Growing up in the Philippines, I have been exposed to both traditional and Western cultures through my family and school. My interest in global issues grew even more as I lived in Spain for several months during high school. Currently, I am a senior in Boston College pursuing a major in Economics and a minor in International Studies. As an international student, I have become more aware of the disparities in the standard of living between my country and the US, and I aim to continue working in the NGO sector to learn more about development and hopefully pursue a Masters in that study. I am also the upcoming president of the International Club of Boston College, which aims to promote international issues and foster stronger relations between the international students and the rest of the BC community.

Muzghan Rasul

Programs Intern

I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. My family and I were forced to move to Russia to save our lives. I had to start my life over in Russia. I had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. I graduated from high school in Moscow, Russia. My journalism studies began in Moscow where I immigrated with my parents, and were interrupted when I moved to the United States. Here in the states I had to start my life over again. I enrolled as a junior in Broadcast journalism field at Emerson College and just graduated in May.  Although I was forced to leave Afghanistan, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had living in different countries because I have learned about other people’s customs and values. I have a strong interest in international affairs because of my multicultural experience.

Miriam Wong

Education Intern

My name is Miriam Wong and I am a rising sophomore at Brandeis University. I come from Hong Kong and grew up in Guangzhou, China, where I attended an international school with students and teachers from various countries and backgrounds. My interest in development economics and poverty alleviation led me to become actively involved with Positive Foundations, a student organization at Brandeis that advocates, fundraises, and raises awareness about the UN Millennium Development Goals. As an intern at UNAGB, I help prepare for the middle and high school Model United Nations conferences and work with passionate and intelligent future leaders who will be able to make a positive difference in the world. . Some of my hobbies include playing new music on my radio show, watching sitcoms and playing volleyball.

A Day as a Refugee: Middle School Simulation

Today, more than 30 million people around the world have been displaced due to war and violence, making nearly 10 million children refugees. As previously blogged about, countries facing an inordinate amount of displaced persons today include Somalia, Colombia, Palestine, Haiti, and Iraq.

On Monday, April 11th, the Education Department of UNA-GB guided a group of participating middle school students from the Greater Boston area through the “Torn from Home: My Life as a Refugee” exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum. The special event was hosted in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Related to the Status of Refugees. The traveling exhibition provided an interactive second-hand look at the plight of refugees, particularly the children supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The 6th and 7th grade students from Josiah Quincy Upper School came highly prepared for the day’s simulation – when Rachel Farkas, the Asia Program Associate at Boston Children’s Museum,  sat down to give a brief introduction of the exhibition, they enthusiastically differentiated between refugees, evacuees, and environmentally displaced people!

To simulate the camp experience, the students were divided into 4 smaller groups: registration, medical, education and home. Through a series of inspiring hands on activities and guided questions from UNA-GB staff, students were able to address a myriad of complicated issues afflicting refugees. Upon ‘registration’, the students were issued individual identification bracelets and compared the food rations of a camp with their diets. In the medical center, they examined malnutrition, disease prevention, water and sanitation. While crammed into a tent, students discussed “What is home?” and “What does home mean to you?”. After exploring the exhibition, they gathered on the benches and mats of the minimalist school area to discuss the opportunities education presents to children in refugee camps and to share what each group had learned from the exhibit.

That afternoon, the students represented different countries associated with the UNHCR. They used their newfound knowledge from the exhibit to fuel a debate of the international issue of Environmentally Displaced People. The success of the day was evident due to the energetic debate amongst the students and the variety of resolutions drafted. To grasp the impact of Model UN simulation, read or watch personal feedback from the students themselves.

Model UN: A Students’ Perspective

As we blogged about a few weeks ago, we had a fantastic group of students from all over the Greater Boston area participate in UNA-GB’s Invitational Model United Nations Spring 2011 Conference (IMUN) at the beginning of March. More than 250 middle and high schoolers from over a dozen Boston-area schools eagerly stepped into the shoes of diplomats, representing more than 40 countries, and spent the day taking on the world’s most pressing issues, including the crisis in Haiti, human organ trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and migrant workers.

Here is a sample of what students had to say about the day:

  • “What I enjoyed most about the Model UN Conference was getting to meet other people and discussing international issues.”
  • “Model UN taught me to understand more about the conflicts in the world and how they can be solved with help from other people. It also taught me how ideas and solutions from our own countries can assist others as well.”
  • “Model UN has really interested me in world issues and debating. Now, when I grow up, I definitely would like to do something to help my country and others.”
  • “Model UN has made me more comfortable talking in front of people now this proves I can be a teacher in the future.”
  • “Model UN is helping me understand the world, and I want to do things, and take every opportunity to help the world.”

Don’t just read about what the young people have to say – you can watch them too!  Check out our video from the IMUN Conference and spread the word that Model UN makes a difference for our young people!

You can also help us reach even more urban students by donating today.  You can also encourage the youth in your life to participate in Model UN (including our brand new summer camp this upcoming July!!).  Remember, Model UN rocks!

How Middle Schoolers Can (and are!) Changing the World!

On November 20th we hosted our annual Middle School Model United Nations conference at Northeastern University. This event was exciting for all of us because we had been preparing for months and finally our hard work paid off.  We had 250 bright-eyed and energetic middle school students from across the greater Boston area show up early Saturday morning, in order to represent over 50 different nations and debating topics such as the Illicit Drug Trade, Fishing, the Crisis in Haiti, Migrant Workers and Environmentally Displaced People.  Students represented their countries in 5 different committees: the Economic and Social Council, Food and Agriculture Organization, Security Council, Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

The opening ceremony featured a speech from the president of Northeastern’s Engineers without Borders chapter, Matt Walsh. His speech was utterly funny and enjoyable, particularly for the students. He spoke about his travels in South Africa and East Asia and he also gave light to Adam Sandler’s charitable side with a story about how Sandler bought four $200,000 cars for some of his costars in a recent film. The latter, Walsh stated, fazed him because he said with $200,000 Engineers without Borders could have dug 20 wells and provided clean water for over 8,000 people.

After the opening ceremony the students were promptly directed towards their respective committees, where they began an arduous debate session until lunch time. At 11:30, the Security Council got a very suitable guest speaker, Mr. Elie Lafortune who is currently a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Lafortune spoke to the delegates of the Security Council about the current crisis in Haiti and gave them a brief history lesson about Haiti’s unstable past. Soon after, the committees adjourned and the students headed off to a lunch of salad and pizza.

As soon as lunch ended, the committees went back in for a second session that consisted mostly of unmoderated caucuses in order to get a head start on their resolutions. The committees felt the pressure to get voting on resolutions done, but rose gallantly to the challenge.  The ECOSOC approved a resolution which called for enhanced surveillance on illicit drug traders as well as for more rehabilitation centers, while in the Security Council delegations came to agreement regarding the need for more financial aid to be distributed in order to provide water, medication, security and many other basic needs that the Haitian people need.

During the closing ceremonies, awards were given out for best delegations and best position papers in each committee.  Honorable mentions were given out for public speaking and negotiation. Though really, we wished we could have given awards to ALL of the students for their astute arguments and keen participation.  It was so rewarding to see how creative the students got in pursuing their assigned country’s best interests and in working towards a better world.

I know we were thoroughly impressed – 11 and 12 year olds expertly debating drugs, migrants and natural disaster relief is quite stunning!  This experience was thrilling for many of us interns because some of us had never staffed a Model UN Conference for this young of students before.  There is nothing quite like experiential based education, especially when it comes to complex global affairs.

If these students are coming up with viable solutions to the world’s most pressing issues now, imagine what is possible once they enter the global stage as politicians, community activists and diplomats!

-Guillermina

PS.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Check out the photos below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.