Home :: News & Events :: News :: Headstart on Lifelong International Engagement: 14th Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference
14 May 2018
Headstart on Lifelong International Engagement: 14th Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference

MUN18-6On Friday April 27, 2018, over 600 students, educators, parents, volunteers, and guests gathered at the U.S. Department of State and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the 14th Annual UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model United Nations Conference.   

The conference welcomed 5th to 12th grade students from nearly 40 schools and groups from not only the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, but also as far as Texas and Lebanon. Throughout the intense one-day conference, student delegates debated possible solutions to important international issues from the perspectives of their countries. They covered current topics like renewable energy, the crisis in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, sports diplomacy & gender equality, crisis of malnutrition, and the crisis of child soldier. Acting like true diplomats would, students participated in a variety of middle school and high school committees: the UN Environment Programme, the UN Security Council, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board, the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as UNICEF.  

MUN18-2The conference was opened by Paula Boland, the Executive Director of UNA-NCA, and Mark Schlachter, Public Affairs Director of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs a the U.S. Department of State (pictured right). Mr. Schlachter started his remarks by honoring Dean Acheson, the former US Secretary of State and a central figure in America’s foreign policy, after whom the auditorium of the opening ceremony was named. He then highlighted the close connection between attending MUN conferences as student delegates and a future career in foreign affairs, encouraging students to continue engaging in international affairs both in and out of the classrooms. Then the audience had the pleasure to enjoy a welcome video from Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Ambassador Haley stressed that while the issues that student delegates discuss might change from conference to conference, “the importance of diplomacy continues.” You can click here to see her video!

Munira Khalif, the US Youth Observer to the UN, speaks to the studentsThe Keynote Speaker for 14th Annual GCDC Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State and PAHO was Munira Khalif, the 2017-2018 U.S. Youth Observer to the UN (pictured left). Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Munira’s experience as a first-generation Somali-American raised her awareness of the sad reality that many children, especially girls, lack the opportunity to attend school. She dedicated her work to female empowerment through education, and encouraged the students at the conference to align their skills with their passion, and continue to engage in global issues and the work of the United Nations. Stephen F. Moseley, the President of UNA-NCA also spoke, reminding students their ability to connect with the rest of the world at this age and congratulated them on a head start in a lifelong engagement in international affairs. Lastly, Queen Balina, the 2018 Global Classrooms DC Secretary-General, officially opened the conference.

“I really liked this conference, especially because it was the first of many GCDC Conferences I will do in the State Department. Thank you!” – 8th Grader from Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC

MUN18-3With the ceremonies concluded, students found their different committee rooms and began their morning sessions. Meanwhile, educators and guests gathered in the Delegates Lounge for the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland greeted the guests and highlighted this year’s conference sponsors and partners. Special thanks to AIRSCHOTT, O’Melveny Law Firm, the National Education Association, Estate Production, The Griffis Family, Morgan Stanley, Starbucks at 21st & P St NW, and all those who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program for your generate support! After the Open House, educators and guests had the opportunity to visit different committee rooms and witness the students in action.

Into the afternoon, the delegates continued working together with other to draft resolutions that outlined their ideas and solutions to solve their committees’ respective challenges. Many Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, or college students and professionals with extensive Model UN experience, shared with the conference staff that they were extremely impressed by the students’ preparation and the quality of their performance.

MUN18-5The educators had the opportunity to attend the the Professional Development Workshop, engaging with educators through innovative global education activities and getting vital feedback on the year-long GCDC curriculum as well as the conference.

The closing ceremonies featured D. Josiane Lee, Recruitment and Outreach Officer at the  U.S. Department of State, who introduced available programs and scholarships available to high school students sponsored by the State Department. UNA-NCA Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon the student Secretary General Queen Balina then gave out the committee and position paper awards to recognize outstanding work done by participating students.

In its 14th year, the GCDC Model UN Conference continued to provide opportunities for young students to fully immerse in global education, discussing some of the world’s most pressing international issues with student delegates from diverse backgrounds, while learning from inspiring leaders and professionals in the field of foreign affairs.  

Thank you again to all our speakers and a very special thank you to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization for the continued support throughout the years.

“This is my first time participating in the GCDC conference, and I am very satisfied with what I have learned, and the experience.” – 11th Grader from Alpha Kappa Alphia Sorority, an education enrichment program in Maryland

UNA-NCA also thanks the United Nations Federal Credit Union, and other GCDC Spring Model UN Conference sponsors and supporters. Thank you to Elliott Lyles for continuing to photograph UNA-NCA events. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – this conference would not have been possible without your support!