On November 19 – 21, 30 students from grades 9 – 12 and three teachers were in Vancouver for the Connect Youth Model United Nations / Commonwealth Conference. Model UN is a great experience for students interested in learning the inner-workings of the United Nations or Commonwealth by taking on a delegate role, learning as they go and getting caught up in the excitement of engaging discussions. Students get a sense of the importance of collaboration, expressing ideas, connecting with others, communicating effectively; all while discussing relevant global issues.
Congratulations to Alex and Eric who were awarded “Best Delegate” for INTERPOL and NATO, respectively.
The next Model UN will take place in Vancouver on January 28-30, 2011. http://vmun.com/
By Orla, Grade 10
The SMUS delegation participated in numerous groups such as; Interpol, Commonwealth, Security, World Health, the Environment Program and many more. This year I was part of the Commonwealth with 30 different countries represented by 60 students, everyone had a chance to talk. The Commonwealth discussed 3 topics; Climate change, corruption, and education. We each sent in a resolution and then we all debated over the resolution. If we agreed with the resolution we passed it, if we disliked the resolution we would strike it and if we wanted to come back to the resolution we tabled it. The difficult and sometimes frustrating part about the Commonwealth was that we had to have a consensus. This could be especially infuriating when all but one agreed! My favourite part of being in the Commonwealth was being able to go outside of the room and debate with no rules, having no debate history this was a great learning experience. Overall the trip was a huge success and we all walked away with a better understanding of world issues and how the Commonwealth and United Nations really works.
By Eric, Grade 12
Having a long history of involvement in politics and public speaking, I held for many years disbelief at the fact that I’d never tried a Model United Nations. Time rolled by while I noted conflicts and told myself I’d simply try the next one until one November weekend where I decided the Newman/FISA debate tournament would survive without me. I enrolled to represent Iceland for the NATO council on the 2010 Connect Model UN, which to my delight was one of the most fun public speaking events I’d ever attended. It had an atmosphere of practicality but friendliness, so that you could analyze situations seriously but make jokes and meet people who were committed to their role. For example, the Delegation of Germany at one point played his national anthem from a laptop while expressing his country’s opinion on a resolution: “nein, nein, nein!”.
The focus of the NATO council laid in nuclear weapons; we spent many hours – including those between midnight and two thirty a.m. in a crisis simulation – debating and negotiating how to convince North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and India to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and what actions to take if terrorists were to obtain nuclear missile capabilities. Perhaps most satisfying in this regard was passing resolutions in favour of Iceland’s pacifistic traditions, such as giving Russia an observer seat on NATO for closer work, offering Iran and North Korea nuclear energy technology if they agreed to regular international inspections and planning mobile missile defence systems for times of extremity. From an educational perspective, I learned most about the foreign policy of various countries; a Model UN allows for their real-time, hands-on comparison, something a textbook can never provide.
Occurrences outside of council meetings also made for great times. As the conference was situated in downtown Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency, exploring the city and watching movies in hotel rooms was accessible and entertaining. If you ever plan to be in the area, ask Michael Skinnider for the name of the best sushi restaurant on the west coast – it really is that good.