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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

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.

Sullied Water

On these warm and humid summer days, we take for granted how easy it is to turn on a faucet and quench our thirst in seconds—and not have to worry about any undesirable effects later. In many countries in the world, this is not a given.The UN General Assembly declared on July 28th 2010 that access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right—one that is unavailable to almost 900 million people in the world.

Lack of clean water and sanitation burdens people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is especially detrimental to the youth of this world. Studies have shown that about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water. An estimated 443 million school days are lost to water and sanitation-related diseases.

Many children every day attend schools that cannot offer them clean water to drink or even hygienic latrine facilities. Each school day that is lost carries with it abandoned knowledge and wasted creativity. Further down the line, this will mean a failure to strengthen the workforce of a nation and ultimately will lead to less economic success in these already struggling countries. The gap between the developing and the industrialized world will only continue to expand.

A UN report from late April of this year showed a small amount of funding for water and sanitation could lower health-care costs, raise school attendance, and significantly improve productivity—facts that are not surprising but can be a real difficulty in achieving for many countries.

According to this report, the access of clean drinking water and sanitized conditions can increase a person’s overall economic wealth from $3 to $34 per every dollar invested. This would ultimately increase a country’s GDP by 2-7%. Cleaner conditions create easier access to education that eventually boosts the economic and general well-being of a country.

Hannah

A Different Sort of Summer Games

Picture this: a beach of sandy white, blue-green waters with foam flecking the surface. Children laughing, flying kites, playing soccer, and swimming through the crashing waves. Along the shore there are giant slides, bouncy castles, and ping-pong tables. Where does your mind take you? To a picturesque day at the New Jersey shore? Or maybe to a carnival on a Florida beachscape?

The scene I am describing actually exists in an area normally torn with pain and hardship—Gaza. However, a UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has made great strides in creating an environment that attempts to bring stability to the residents of Palestine and the Gaza Strip. Specifically, this group provides education, health, relief, and social services to eligible Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, and the West Bank.  Since 2007, they have organized unique summer games for the children to attend, which consist of a total of 1,200 camps, running from June 12th to August 5th.

Last year, the games drew around 250,000 children, located at 25 different beaches along the Gaza coast, where kids received swimming lessons, played various sports, and created arts and crafts. The UNRWA also connected with community based organizations to bring mural-painting, inflatable slides, bouncy castles, swimming pools, dancing, kite making and more.  The activities extended into hospitals and orphanages where the UNRWA provided puppet and theater shows, clowns, and cartoons.

The summer games have transformed many of the children. One parent remarks on the necessity of the program:

“This event is so necessary; I mean, the situation being what it is here, children and families really need a break and more of these activities. The kids see so much, and they understand the situation and the suffering of their parents. So these kinds of activities really help them psychologically and encourage their talents. As you can see, here the kids can play, and laugh, and be happy…and we’re happy for them.”

Khalid Abu Ramadan

Hopefully, the games will continue to run for years to come. There has been much support so far. The European Union recently donated 2 million Euros to support the camps. The programming truly makes a difference in the lives of the Palestinian youth.

Want to see more? Check out the UNRWA picture gallery.

Thanks!

Hannah

New Summer Posts

Hello!

My name is Christina and I’m a Programs and Membership intern this summer at the UNA-GB. I am from NY and currently attend Boston College as an undergraduate student studying International Studies and Hispanic Studies.

In the remaining summer months other UNA-GB interns  and myself will be creating new blog posts about UNA-GB’s events and other issues on the UN agenda. In the past few weeks we have had numerous events including an Annual Meeting, a Women’s Forum Panel on Political Participation and this Thursday (July 8th) we will be having a Fair Trade Panel for Young Professionals (more details are on the homepage of the UNA-GB website).

Please continue to check this blog for new posts and updates on the latest UNA-GB events and UN issues.

I will write back soon!

Christina