Model UN – a club that many have heard of, but few know anything about. Unlike most activities, there are no regular weekly meetings, no advertisements to be in a certain place at a certain time to join. But occasionally a school will hold a Model UN convention, such as the Dalton School in the Upper East Side did on April 23rd, and BSGE will be well represented.
Three juniors and five seniors, along with supervisor Ms. Meisler, attended said conference, where students from many different schools attempt to solve world issues in eight to ten hours. Each school is assigned one or more countries to represent, and for the weeks leading up to the conference, the students learn about their country’s strengths and issues so they can be accurate representatives. In this case, BSGE was assigned Australia, Belgium, and the Philippines, but due to a lack of people, the Philippines ended up being ignored. During the conference, there are many subcommittees that focus on world issues such as climate change and disease control, and each participant joins one of these subcommittees to represent their country. Hours of spirited debate ensue. Eventually, proposals are created, voted on, and announced to the rest of the conference, sometimes with awards for countries and/or schools whose representatives stand out.
Model UN can be a great way to broaden one’s horizons. Learning about the struggles of other countries and trying to adequately represent their interests can be challenging, but is ultimately rewarding, especially for those who are interested in law, government, politics, international relations, and debating skills. Ms. Meisler explained that she enjoys Model UN because it can “create a possibility of world peace in the future. It is a very idealistic goal.” Similarly, Malcolm Sherman-Godfrey ’17 mentioned that he “likes Model UN as a concept” and that at the Dalton Conference “the people who are running it were well-organized.”
Of course, Model UN isn’t without its downsides. The premise of solving world problems with a day of debate can lead to thought-provoking exercise, but is rather unrealistic. Moreover, there can be a lack of diversity at events. Malcolm faced this problem in his room, where the topic of discussion was payment of UN peacekeeping forces. He was the only person from a public school, and when he said as much, he was met with “a very brief look of disgust.” As a result of this, the resolution the room reached did not take his opinion into consideration, instead originating from what the “seriously out-of-touch rich people” preferred.
Other Model UN conferences are formatted differently, and issues of diversity by no means apply to them all. Any students who want to go into law or politics should give it careful consideration, and all can benefit from enhancing their debating skills. The intense argument that goes on should be a convincing reason why the real UN’s influence is so weak: if students with nothing personal at stake have difficult reaching agreements, how could the real representatives be expected to?