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18 July 2018
Model UN Workshop Helps Student Break Out of Their Shells

From July 9th to 11th, the Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Program ran a workshop with eleven students from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD. The mission of this workshop was to give students fundamental skills and knowledge to be an active participant in Model UN simulations.

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On the first day, students were introduced to the GCDC Program and all the work we accomplish. Following this, students were given small exercises to get them familiar with the work of the United Nations. After a short discussion on the UN, the workshop started focusing on how this work is simulated in Model UN.

The next skill development that was focused on was writing and researching a position paper, which in Model UN is the one-page summary of a country’s position and recommendations for policy solutions. With help from GCDC Program Assistants, students wrote brief position paper outlines by using a paper that compared the ingredients in a burger to the major aspects of a position paper.

Workshop2018-2For the third skill, public speaking, students were given a small office supply article, such as a pen, and were tasked with speaking for 30 seconds on why people should buy it. After a lively discussion, students had the opportunity to practice their own public speaking skills through a speech from Malala Yousafzai. Their classmates gave them observations and suggestions to better improve their delivery, and everyone improved. After this, students regrouped and were randomly called on to give a 30 second extemporaneous speech on a subject, such as “should homework loads be reduced?” The day ended with the selling office supplies exercise, where students showcased their greatly improved public speaking skills.

On the second day of the workshop, students were able to learn and practice negotiation, collaboration and resolution writing skills. These essential skills that will help them not only at Model UN conferences, but also throughout their life to find better solutions in a group settings.

Workshop2018-3In order to illustrate the importance of the ability to negotiate and collaborate to resolve the vital issues students were given what we call “Alone on Deserted Island”, which forces groups of students to decide together what items they would keep if stranded on a deserted island. This activity was designed specifically to practice prioritization, compromising, as well as advocating for their opinions.

Next, students had to craft a restauant menu, complete with choices for appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Students had to take into account characteristics of customers like financial level, age, food preferences, and dress code as well as the essential needs of each customer. This activity helped students to realize that even such thing as creating a menu requires the consideration of a variety of different perspectives.

Workshop2018-4That afternoon, students learned and practiced resolution writing skills. Mentors explained the importance of resolutions and how resolutions that are written by the United Nations influence different countries and people around the world. Students were given a chance to brainstorm policies they as countries would recommend to protect the human rights of refugees in Syria - a mini simulation where they represented their countries perspective. This activity helped students to learn research and writing skills. Such skills are needed not only for MUN Conference but also for writing their school and university essays.

On the third and final day, students combined all the new skills they had learned from the previous days by participating in a mini-simulation where they were assigned countries to represent and discus about the human rights of refugees in Syria. In addition to learning about the conflicts in Syria, human rights issues, the mini-conference encouraged students to think about the ways countries work together to solve a global issue like the refugee crisis. It was also an effective way to familiarize students with the rules and procedures of Model UN, and to teach students public speaking, negotiation, collaboration, and writing skills.

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During the morning session, student delegates made opening speeches presenting their country’s perspective on the topic. Later, they discussed possible solutions about increasing refugee admissions, fighting extremist terrorist organizations like ISIS, protecting civilians, and allocating resources from developed and developing nations to prevent human rights violations and provide better living conditions for people in the refugee camps.

Two blocs or groups were formed as students realized the conflicting interests of different countries. For example, a major clash during the debate was that Syria, Russia, and China proposed that all countries should take an apolitical stance on the Syrian Civil War, while Saudi Arabia called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Workshop2018-6In the afternoon, student delegates presented two draft resolutions or documents outlining their solutions to the committee. During the presentation of each draft resolution, the sponsors were asked to answer other delegates’ questions about some specific clauses they wrote. By answering the questions, sponsors were able to explain and clarify some of the clauses, and find out how to amend their draft resolution to make sure that the solutions were feasible. Throughout the simulation, students worked together to brainstorm the possible solutions can be included in the draft resolution, and successfully found a common ground for countries with different positions through negotiation. Some of the students were step up to be the leaders of their group and make sure that everyone was on the same page. They also enjoyed expressing their ideas by making speeches, debating and discussing during moderated and unmoderated caucuses.

In the end, GCDC believes that the students gained invaluable skills pertaining to Model UN. Furthermore, we know that they have emerged from the workshop with more knowledge about the UN, international politics, and current events than when they entered into it. We are proud of our work done in partnership with Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD and hope that our guidance has inspired students to share their passion for Model UN.


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