Taking Classrooms Global With Model UN


Middle school students in the Global Classrooms DC program visit a mini library station to get information for their debate at the 2012 Spring Model UN Conference. Photo courtesy Latraniecesa Johnson-Wilson.

Mining, child soldiers, the human rights of migrant workers, and crisis in Colombia?

These are issues that challenge the world’s foremost development and security experts, and probably seem foreign and unfamiliar to most U.S. teenagers. However, Model UN youth are taking on these seemingly intractable problems in mock forums across the country this month.

The 2012 Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Spring Model UN Conference took place on Tuesday, May 1, at the U.S. Department of State, hosted by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), the U.S. Department of State, and the Pan American Health Organization. During the event, 600 middle and high school students, including youth from underserved communities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and a special delegation all the way from Tema, Ghana, participated in a daylong program. The agenda consisted of speeches by diplomacy experts followed by the main event: member-state presentations, negotiations on draft resolutions, and unmoderated caucuses among the students.

I can only imagine how exciting it would be to don a junior-sized suit and swap policy recommendations at the State Department, the hub of our nation’s diplomatic activities. As I recall, my own Model UN experience in 7th grade took place at a local community college–and I thought that was pretty snazzy. And yet, as thrilling as the conference surely is for all the participants, it represents only a small part of the broader Model UN program. To prepare for the conference, middle and high school students and teachers participate in year-round activities to help them understand the UN system, increase their knowledge of other cultures and traditions, improve their ability to think analytically, and creatively and collectively tackle global problems.

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