There’s nothing unusual about SMUS students participating in a Model UN, but this week was the first time we involved some Middle School students in the time-honoured demonstration of international relations at work. A dozen Grade 8 students joined the Senior School delegates in debating global issues earlier this week.
“I was really pleased and pleasantly surprised by how quickly – and actively – engaged the Grade 8 students became,” says trip leader David Lynch. “Usually students are pretty intimidated their first time, but our kids just jumped right in and debated and negotiated with students far older and more experienced than them!”
Below, Grade 8 student Josh answers some questions about his first time at Model UN.
What made you decide to participate in the Model UN?
I felt it would be a good experiences and I wanted to find out how it worked and learn how to solve a real world problem, like an adult. And I thought it would be fun!
What did you do at the conference?
I represented Mexico. To schedule a motion or to talk, I raised my placard. We tried to find a global solution to AIDS/HIV. Me and other students teamed up to make a resolution, which didn’t get chosen, but it was fun to come up with!
What was your resolution?
We tried to get rid of social and religious stigmas, then increase access to antiretroviral medications and increase infrastructure to improve access — making it easier and more affordable to get.
What surprised you about the Model UN?
I thought it would be complicated and hard, but was easy to get into it right away, even without experience. Also, I thought some students’ ideas were really interesting.
What was it like to participate alongside the Senior School students?
For me, attending with Senior School students was a great learning opportunity. Although I was not able to participate with SMUS Senior School students, I was able to collaborate with senior students from other schools. Most of the them had prior knowledge of the Model UN so it was very helpful learning some of the procedures. Overall, it was very enlightening and a beneficial opportunity.
What did you learn about how countries work together and the skills required for international relations?
I learned that countries will only work together when all needs are met and there is a mutual issue. Countries may also work together just to help another country out or on the other hand receive aid. Skills required for international relations are represented well in the Model UN. In order to gain signatories or support for a resolution you must form bonds with other nations.
While representing Mexico, I found it easy to garner support from countries that had the vision of reducing social stigmas — such as the Czech Republic — against our topic. However, connecting with the countries that had those social stigmas was difficult as they had different issues. This is just an example of a skill needed to connect with other countries to achieve a meaningful solution.
Will you do Model UN at the Senior School next year?