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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What We Learn from Model UN

By Victory Lee

In any school, there are students who passionately love speaking and there are those who don’t feel very confident with public speaking. Some students naturally feel very comfortable speaking in front of a crowd while others feel more comfortable expressing themselves by writing their ideas on a piece of paper. The Model United Nations club offers equally wonderful opportunities for both types of students. 

Wyoming High School Model United Nations (WHSMUN), advised by Mrs. Terryl Meador, boasts an organized group of dedicated secretariat working to provide the best experience for all members of the club. The club members themselves also exemplify responsibility in their involvement by participating in early morning meetings and by sharing new ideas to improve the club. Each year, the club attends about four high school and college conferences spread out throughout the year. Although there are different features for each conference, there are typically three types of committees: General Assemblies, Crisis Committees, and Special Agencies.

Wyoming High School Model United Nations students participate in four conferences every school year.
General Assembly (GA) is where a large body of students each become a delegate representing a unique country, whether it be the nation we live in, the United States, or a familiar neighbor country like Canada or even a small island nation whose name you don’t even know how to pronounce. The General Assemblies carry out a productive debate on the topics presented in the background guides pre-written by their chairs. In the last WHSMUN conference, the Ohio State University Model United Nations Conference, the Small Islands Developing States Committee (SIDS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Committee (UNODC) debated for logical solutions for some of the most pressing issues real-life, such as global warming and drug problems. 

The GA sessions are held in large rooms and therefore it is important for delegates to speak in a clear and loud voice to convey their message to the entire body. However, delivering speeches is only a small part of what GA committees do. Committee sessions are divided into moderated and unmoderated caucuses. A moderated caucus is a more organized form of discussion in which delegates speak only when they are recognized by the chair. Delegates share their opinions on what the current situations are, what should be the focus of the approach to a plausible solution, and how to maintain the solution effective and enforceable. An unmoderated caucus is a less formal discussion where delegates move around to talk to reach agreements and to make compromises for any disagreements.

Model United Nation students celebrate after a successful conference.
Students learn multilateral academic skills such as speaking in front of a large group of people and writing, merging, and editing a comprehensive resolution. However, students also learn critical social skills such as effectively communicating with peers, appealing their ideas to others, and collaborating with different people. 

Crisis Committees and Special Agency Committees offer very unique features. Each committee session is designed so that the student delegates can actively drive the plot of the situation they are faced in. They are challenged with unexpected situations that require students to come up with a speedy yet effective resolution by writing directives. These committee sessions encourage students to use their creative thinking skills to find a way out of the problems. Typically set in a smaller setting than General Assemblies, these committees offer a friendly environment where everyone can easily share their ideas even without a loud voice. 

In all three types of committees, delegates each hold the responsibility of voting for or against any motion or resolution. Students therefore learn to more thoroughly understand and analyze documents proposed by other delegates and also discuss and revise their own documents. Through this, students learn to be active members of a body sharing productive critiques and accepting helpful comments to collaborate as a working body. 

Wyoming High School students were all smiles after a successful Model United Nations conference. 
Conferences are not over outside of the sessions. The WHSMUN members gather around after each night of conference to discuss any inconveniences or ways to improve their experience. Students also give advice to each other on how to treat delegates and the chairs and how to react in certain situations.

Model United Nations is a program that teaches students to work as an individual and as a team. It teaches them how to understand, analyze, criticize, and compromise and make strategic moves to solve a challenging problem. By interacting with different people, students learn to step up and openly express their thoughts whether it is on the microphone or on a piece of paper. Students grow up to be more independent by making individual decisions in voting procedures. Mostly importantly, students become open to admitting their short-comings and improving their performance by actively taking the opportunities offered to them, such as training sessions, critique sessions, and peer advice. 
Each year the WHSMUN team grows. And with the experience from college conferences, the secretariat and club members work to perfect WYOMUN, the annual conference held by Wyoming High School. Now, the WYOMUN staff are working diligently for WYOMUN V, which will have eleven high school committees ranging from the Commonwealth to the NCAA committee and four middle school committees ranging from the Roanoke colony to the Chicano movement. The team looks for another great year with the plan to travel to Vanderbilt and Yale in the winter and OSU, Miami, UC, and Mason in the spring.

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