Why Your School Should Participate in the United Nations Conference

Written By Sally Forsyth

 

Does your school offer a Model United Nations extracurricular activity for students?

If you haven't offered this in your high school extracurricular program, I strongly recommend offering it to your students.

There are so many opportunities for students to learn valuable skills and increase their awareness about global issues.  The model UN fosters an opportunity for students to learn about the problems and challenges facing people in the different countries and cultures at this time in history.

So what exactly is the Model United Nations High School Conference?

The Model United Nations High School Conference is a conference held every year involving students from schools not only within the US and Canada, but  many other countries internationally. The conference is a simulation of the real United Nations including debates, speeches, committees, proposed interventions using the  exact protocols and procedures in the actual United Nations.

How does the Model United Nations extracurricular activity work?

Students who sign up for the Model United Nations activity meet for several months before the actual conference to prepare for their participation in the event. Once schools sign up for the event, they will be assigned to represent specific countries depending on the number of students involved. This means that they will serve as delegates for those particular countries when they participate in the actual conference.

They will never represent the country where they currently live, so students can expect to be assigned to a country with a very different cultural, social and political perspective to their own! For example, last year our school, __________________, was assigned to Ukraine and Israel.

Once they know what countries they will have to represent, they will begin to work on different committees focusing on a specific social or political dilemma relevant to that country. Students then  conduct research to get all the information they need from reliable sources, collecting evidence to support their presentation of the problem and proposed solution. This practice will prepare them to speak confidently about  relevant issues at the conference as a delegate of that country.

The process helps students develop research and investigative skills which are  useful, and not just in high school. Said skills prepare students for the type of research they may have to do at university level in the future.

What happens at the actual conference?

Once they get to the conference, the simulation activity will actually begin. They will participate in debates following real life procedures including roll call, caucuses, conflict solution scenarios, and even simulated emergency crisis interventions which pop up during the actual conference.

They will have an amazing opportunity to interact with hundreds of students from other school and cultures. Not only does this give them a chance to develop their interpersonal skills, but students will be able to exchange ideas and learn about perspectives very different from their own. This cultivates an awareness of being a global citizen, a citizen concerned with issues that affect all of humanity.

What skills will students develop?

Participation in the Model United High School Conference is a fantastic opportunity for students to develop and strengthen a set of skills which will be actually essential for the world we live in . Not only will it help build their confidence, it will also help them develop leadership skills, and negotiation and conflict resolution skills.

Of course, they will  also strengthen public speaking skills as they practice debating, and of course the actual simulated debates in the conference itself.

Will participation help students with their college placement?

Universities and colleges look favorably on an applicant when they see that the student has participated in the Model United Nations Conference. They often tend to look for students who stand out from the crowd, and who have developed leadership skills.

They also like to see students who have developed an awareness of other cultures and show global perspective of the world we live in today. This activity also helps develop teamwork and collaboration as well as public speaking, and each of these skills look impressive on a college application.

Will it be helpful for international students?

Yes, this will be a great activity for international students in your school to participate in. It will facilitate greater confidence in speaking English publicly knowing that there are many other students from different countries participating in the conference whose primary language is likely not English.

To all our partner schools, I recommend you consider starting up a Model United Nations extracurricular program at your school. It will have enormous benefits for your students, providing them with the chance to learn unique skills and develop their leadership qualities beyond the  academic curriculum.

 

 

 

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About the author

Sally Forsyth is a High school English teacher and an educational coach. She has worked in national and internatonal schools in different countries and different school systems, She is also the founder of CoachMyFuture, a coaching organization focusing on coaching teachers and educators in the educational sector.

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