This past Friday morning, March 4th, a group of more than 250 enthusiastic high school and middle school students from the Greater Boston area gathered at the Northeastern University campus for UNA-GB’s annual Invitational Model United Nations (IMUN) conference to take on the world’s most pressing problems.
The opening ceremony began with the keynote speaker Sasha deBeausset, BUILD Coordinator at the Tufts University Chapter, who gave an attention-grabbing speech about her global project in Guatemala, inspiring students to take action as global leaders for significant change around the world.
Student delegates, then, separated into six United Nations committees, including the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council and took on the role of diplomats from 40 nations including China, India, and Afghanistan, to represent their countries. The students engaged in vigorous debates, alliance building, strategic negotiations, and resolution writing. They debated solutions to pressing global conflicts from the crisis in Haiti to the ongoing issues such as Human Organ Trafficking, HIV/AIDS Pandemic and Migrant Workers.
The productive day ended with the closing ceremony where each committee chair presented awards for the Best Speaker, Best Position Paper and Best Delegation. The IMUN participants did an amazing job of communicating their thoughts from each country’s perspectives and coming up with worldwide resolutions to the problems.
Overall, it was a successful day and a great experience for everyone. Thank you to all of those that came out to make this event successful! Without all the staffs and schools that participated, the 2011 IMUN would not have happened. Stay tuned for more event photos and a video of the day’s events!
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!
PS. Don’t just take my word for it. Check out the photos below!
The UNA-GB hosts many fantastic events for its members throughout the greater Boston Area. In addition to this, it also reaches out to area public and charter schools to provide young middle and high school students a chance to participate in Model UN. Our Education interns in the office help run these programs by writing topic guides (on Clean Water, for instance) and teaching the students how to act as if they were Ambassadors to the United Nations debating an issue before the General Assembly or another UN body. I recently sat in on a Model UN simulation at Northeastern University, and it was a great experience!
Two Education interns, Deenah and Allison, acted as moderators while the middle school students debated the issue of “animal trafficking.” When the debate became rowdy, Deenah and Ali simply had to quietly murmur “Decorum” or tap a wooden gavel on the plastic table, and the students immediately quieted down.
Students represented various countries that included India, France, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Italy, and a slew of others. Animal trafficking really seemed to strike a chord with the students as they passionately debated different solutions to the issue such as taxation or extended jail time. It was amazing to see how far they extended their thinking, including how to deal with corrupt law enforcement, the possibility of creating an animal sanctuary, and even organizing charity walks to promote awareness of the issue.
I think the best part of this experience was seeing the kids work through their differences and come to common solutions. I will admit it seemed to get heated at times as everyone had their own opinion and wanted to be heard. Although the students attended different schools, to some extent they were able to break through that initial awkwardness and work together. They embraced the fun and comfortable setting, immersing themselves in the language of the UN in every aspect of life–even when requesting ‘a point of personal privilege’ to use the bathroom.
The simulation will help them out later in life with public speaking abilities, conflict resolution in their daily lives, and even prospective interviews for future employment. Although I only witnessed the last few hours of the simulation (it had been going on all week), it seemed to me that these students were much more confident than I or any other of my peers had been at that age.
At the end of the assembly, they were given the opportunity to give feedback–what they thought went well and what they should work on if they chose to participate in the future.
I was impressed by how spot-on the kids were with their strengths and weaknesses, how they could diplomatically express weaknesses while also modestly congratulate their strengths.
It made me wish that I had had the opportunity to participate in Model UN when I was younger.
More to come!