Model U.N. Learns From First Competition
Every semester, Whitman’s Model United Nations goes to one conference where Model U.N. clubs from different schools come together to simulate the process of coming to agreements in hopes of solving current issues. On Friday, Nov. 16, the Model U.N. club will be attending a Northwest Model U.N. conference in Seattle.
“It’s called Northwest Model United Nations and they hold it every year in November in Seattle, Washington. It’s our second time going. We’re bringing mostly freshmen with us, and so its a really good learning opportunity for them. [The event's host] is really good at teaching people how to debate and learn the procedure,” said junior Jane Carmody. The event is hosted by the independent nonprofit for Northwest Association for Global Affairs.
The Model U.N. club learns about current events and goes to conferences where different committees representing different countries try to come up with a diplomatic agreement to solve a given problem. At these conferences, the procedures follow a structure similar to that of United Nations procedures. Basically, everyone is in parliamentary procedure, talking with other delegates from different nations to try and come to terms for a resolution.
“There are usually two topics that are … on the agenda, and usually we go only through one of the topics because the procedure takes a long time. In this procedure, people are supposed to act like their country, and so it’s not your personal view on the subject, but your country’s views on the matter,” said junior Anne Gaskins.
There are different levels of competition between conferences. The conference held by University of Washington is on the beginner’s end, held to teach participants. However, there are a few on the east coast which only more experienced teams attend, so the club picks only a handful of experienced members since the conference will not slow down to teach the process.
However, going to any one of these conferences is no walk in the park. The club teaches its members the United Nations’ terms and procedures that the real U.N. members use to discuss current problems around the world so that at the conference, people are not lost as to what to do.
“Each day, Anne and I have a particular topic we want to talk about. It’s either one day we go over parliamentary procedure, how debate works; the next day we’ll go over what a resolution is and how to write up a resolution. Every member has to write a position paper, so we have gone over how to write those and how to research for those. Then next week, we’re going to have a mock debate so that we can practice their parliamentary procedure and resolution writing skills before we go to the conference,” said Carmody.
Events and clubs like Model U.N. help students not only learn how to work well with others to come up with an agreement or resolution, but they also help students become great communicators and thinkers.
“It’s taught me how to examine and communicate [and] contribute to the discussion. Rather than adding to discussions points that have already been said, it has helped [me] to analyze the discussion and keep contributing to move forward,” said sophomore Nate Higby. “Because there are a few hundred people at these conferences, you can’t have everybody repeating the same thing over and over. It also helps you to work well with others and forces [you] to have to find a middle and come to an agreement, meeting both stances.”
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