By: Shazya Akthar (Freshman)
Senn’s Model UN headed to Roberto Clemente High School on May 6th for a Model UN Conference and have received numerous awards, including Best Position Paper, that reflected the hard work and dedication they put to prepare for this event.
Model UN (United Nations) is an educational simulation and an academic competition where students become delegates of a country that is part of the United Nations and simulate UN committees. Model UN teaches students researching, public speaking, debating, and writing skills, as well as critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities. Some schools have Model UN as an after school activity while others have a Model UN class. Thankfully, Senn has both a Model UN Club and the class. The club is on Tuesdays from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm. The club can go on longer if the topic at hand is really heated up and on a role. UN Classes at Senn is offered to seniors as an elective class.
At the conference, which is usually hosted by a high school or college, the students are
known as delegates, and are assigned to a committee and to a country. They also receive a current problem in the world to research beforehand so they can debate about it in the conference with their committee. Each delegate in the conference gives an opening speech about their country’s position on the problem and what the international committee could do to stop it. Next, we have moderated caucuses, which is when a delegate can talk about a specific plan to tackle the problem. Unmoderated caucuses usually occur next, where the delegates can talk to other delegates from another country and try to formulate a resolution. A resolution is a document that addresses possible solutions to the problem and needs to be voted on by the majority of the committee for it to be passed and worked on.
After the committee simulations are over and every committee came up with a resolution that was passed, everyone comes back together again and awards are given out to those delegates who stood out the most in the individual committee debates. The awards include: Best Position Paper, Honorable Mention, Verbal Commendation, and Best Delegate, with Best Delegate also receiving a gavel. Chicago Public Schools and UNA-USA Global Classrooms hosted and sponsored the conference, stating that the conference is a way for students to learn about the world and to participate in it and work for a positive change.
Donny Schiek, a Loyola graduate who was a student teacher at Senn, agreed that Model UN
and the conference empowers the students to change the world through their interpretation on the world and the situations in it.
“Student’s voices are often neglected by society,” Schiek said. “In this regard, Model UN provides a means to voice student opinions. It also fosters diplomacy and cooperation amid a world that gravely needs it. It empowers our youth to learn how to bring people together.”
Senn did have UN classes, but the club was shut down for a bit since no one was joining it. The club was brought back to life thanks to sophomore Senn student, Sana Leebe, who is also the president of the club.
Leebe went to Senn’s website and found out that Senn did have a UN Club, but it was shut down. She then emailed Louise Mandelman, social studies teacher at Senn and the teacher who started the club, and proposed to bring the club back. After some talking between the two, Mandelman agreed and Leebe started to make flyers about the club and posted them around the school. Soon, students joined.
But why did Leebe want to bring the club back to life? She said, “I’ve always been interested in other country’s policies. It’s alright to learn about America’s history, but it’s good to learn about another country’s history – that way you can see those countries perspectives on America.”
Besides Leebe thinking about the actual conference and how it will go, she is also thought about the social side of it that everyone will experience and take away from there.
“I personally think that since it is our first time going to conference, we should enjoy it and have fun. There is always next year and room for improvements.”
Leebe isn’t the only one who felt like the learning experience at the conference would be fun. Ameena Adeyemo, a senior Senn student who is currently taking a Model UN class, believed Senn’s Model UN has an advantage in the conference.
“First of all, it’s going to be awesome there,” Adeyemo said. “Second, not all schools have
a UN class, so we have more insight than all the other schools that are going.
Contrary to this, Donald McFadden, also a senior at Senn who is taking a UN class, felt like some students were unprepared, but they still had a very special trump card with them that would make them victorious at the conference.
“Even if some of the students are unprepared, their speaking skills are great, which will give them an upper-hand in the debates.”
In the end, Senn came away with many of the awards presented at the end of the conference.
Senn won four of the Best Position Papers. The committees that won it were the General Assembly (eradication of poverty), Security Council (situation in Syria), UNOCD (organ trafficking), and SOCHUM (humanitarian intervention). The General Assembly again won an award for Honorable Mention. Both UNDP (sustainable energy for all) and SOCHUM won an award for verbal commendation. Although HRC (internet freedom of speech) didn’t receive anything, they still put up a really good debate that will be remembered by many that were with them in their committee.
Model UN Conferences happen every year. David Stachowiak, social studies teacher at Senn, believed that the students will do a spectacular job next year based on this year’s conference.
“From the experience students gained from the conference this year,” Stachowiak said, “I expect they will have an advantage in understanding the Model UN procedures and process and will be able to better substantiate and negotiate their positions, and therefore, be successful in the conference next year.”