Do you know what the German government’s stance on drone use is? What about Finland’s? Or the Philippines’? If you’re curious, just ask the savvy Grade 8 SMUS students participating in this weekend’s Model UN conference up-Island.
Model UN opportunities have long-existed at our Senior School, but the Middle School only recently began offering students the chance to participate – and it’s been very well received so far.
“I love to see them go from having no idea what to expect to bravely getting up in front of 50 people there. You can see them quickly develop a passion for what they’re doing,” says Catherine Cade, who runs Model UN at the Middle School. “They gain so much confidence and get so much enjoyment out of it because they learn as they go, and they learn from their peers.”
Seventeen Grade 8 students spent part of their Spring Break and this first week back at school preparing this weekend’s debate, all representing different countries. That preparation requires a lot of research on their assigned country and a lot of reading up on current events. The topic of debate this year is military, agricultural and personal use of camera-equipped drones.
“We need to go knowing a lot of background information, like your population, population density, what kind of government, GDP, natural resources and what countries are your allies that we should be talking to and trying to work with at the conference,” said Lucas G.
A few of the students attending this weekend’s Model UN, like Abby L. and Matthew O., participated in their first conference earlier this year. Abby, speaking from experience, says she enjoys the fact that fulsome research on your country and topic allows you to really get the most out of the debating – even if you, personally, don’t agree with your country’s particular stance on the issue.
“It’s like you put on a costume and you have to look at everything from their view, not from your own point of view. Even if it’s against your values, you have to support it. You have to put everything aside and be more open-minded,” Abby said. “You have to listen to their side of the story, otherwise it ruins the fun of Model UN.”
This will be Fionnuala M.’s first Model UN conference, and while she says she’s not sure what to expect, she’s really excited about the prospect of the experience.
“I think leaving with different views and more information about what’s going on, a wider understanding of real-life situations, is going to be good,” she said.
With Model UN offered at the Senior School, many of the students say they’re looking forward to continuing on with the club when they reach Grades 9 through 12.
“I think if you ever have the choice to try it, take it. It’s really, really great,” Matthew said. “The way the UN works, it’s basically everything to do with the four pillars, especially honesty and respect.”
Ms. Cade says given the high level of interest in Model UN at the Middle School, her hope is to introduce it as a Middle School exploratory option in the near future.