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18 November 2016
Global Classrooms DC Fall Model UN Conference: Work Together for a Better World
On Friday, November 18, 2016, UNA-NCA's Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Program hosted its Fall Model UN Training Conference and Professional Development Workshop at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Over 190 students from schools in the Washington DC metro area, ranging from 5th to 11th grade, attended to discuss access to primary education. 

luis_is_so_awesome The event began with keynote speaker Una Chapman Cox Fellow, and U.S. Foreign Service Officer  Luis F. Mendez. Luis recently served at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City where he lead a team that conducted analysis and public relations for Mission Mexico's $2.3 billion security assistance program, the Merida Initiative. Luis is with UNA-NCA supporting the GCDC program for the 2016-2017 school year, before he takes on the post of Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of Political Affairs come summer of 2017. 

Luis spoke to the audience about his first Model UN experience, where he froze while giving his opening remarks to the committee. Luis overcame those nerves, however, and went on to win best delegate. 

"I am feeling inspired. Having been a Model UN participant for years, I know what you have to offer the world." - Luis F. Mendez, on his path from Model UN to the U.S. Department of State

Luis goes on to talk about how the difference for many children in achieving their dreams so often is not drive or intelligence, but opportunity. Luis emphasized this with two stories from his travels, one about a student who strived against the odds to have the opportunities, and one who did not. Luis tied their stories to the opportunities the students at the conference were about to experience; encouraging them to think about the opportunities in front of them, and the opportunities that so many other students must fight to achieve.

"When children can’t go to school that not only affects their families’ health, but the health, economy, and security of their countries. In today’s interconnected world, all of that can affect the United States too." - Luis F. Mendez

Luis ended with three central lessons that he learned through Model UN that he has turned to "time and time again" as a diplomat: don't be afraid to fail, listening to all voices matters, and changing the world can't be done alone - you must work with others and make allies to push any agenda. (You can find the full text of Luis' speech here).

The delegates were enthusiastic as the first committee session began. Quickly after opening the speaker's list, delegates eloquently made opening remarks on the positions of their respective countries and ideas for moving forward in the committee. Through moderated and unmoderated caucuses, delegates worked together to build a consensus and tackle the challenge at hand. 
"I learned that preparation is important and it is critical to speak your mind." - 5th Grade Student

After resting and relaxing at lunch, the delegates returned for the afternoon session to continue on the resolutions they had drafted and wanted to present to the committee. Meanwhile, the professional development workshop commenced to help educators effectively implement GCDC and Model UN curriculum in their classrooms and clubs. 

As the afternoon progressed, the students developed seven resolutions, and started the processes of merging them. By the end of the afternoon, two resolutions were presented to the committee for discussion and debate. 

"Today, I learned the importance of teamwork and peaceful cooperation." - 7th Grade Student

In the end, the delegates voted on to pass one of the two resolutions. The dais and Director of Global Education, Megan Penn, then spoke to the students, wrapping up the conference as they transitioned into the closing ceremonies, votingwhere some delegations received honorable mentions for contributions to the committee throughout the day.

As the schools wrapped up, and headed onto the school bus to end a truly extraordinary school day, students shared their thoughts, emotions, and experiences with the staff. One student summed up their lesson with this:

"The world has a lot of problems, but if we work together, we can make a better world." - 8th Grade Student

To find out more about Global Classrooms DC, including opportunities to volunteer and upcoming conferences, click here

Want a unique way to get involved? Support a Delegate and make an impact by providing opportunities for students, the same opportunities, as stated by keynote speaker Luis F. Mendez, that make all the difference.