Model UN students learn to appreciate other countries and their politics

Though missing a day of school is what initially draws students into Model UN, after joining, it soon becomes apparent that the activity requires more effort than its reputation would suggest. Students must first conduct research on their assigned topic over current world issues, which can range anywhere from child labor laws to the containment of nuclear waste. After hours of research and multiple practice sessions, students finally attend the Iowa High School Model United Nations Conference held at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. True to its name, the conference mimics the United Nations, with high school students from over 35 Iowa high schools representing more than 40 countries. The 2006 conference was held from April 20-22 as the 42nd Model UN Conference in the state of Iowa. As delegates from their countries, students partake in a multitude of topics relating to global issues, following standard parliamentary procedure to create a resolution on their subject. Amendments are written by delegates pertaining to the topic and are then voted upon by each country represented, with UNI students mediating the meeting. This year, 30 Ames High students represented the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba. Continuing his tradition, adviser and social studies teacher Tim Mooney succeeded in picking seemingly Communist countries whose principles go against those of most Western powers. “Ames High has always been denied countries with superpower status, so I pick the fun countries instead,” Mooney said. “Students seem to enjoy playing the protagonist during committee meetings.” The toughest part of Model UN is that delegates must vote according to their country’s position on the issue, which is not always easy when personal ideals sometimes conflict with those of the country. “Sometimes it’s hard because you want to fight for what you believe, but at the same time, it can be fun because you can take on opinions you wouldn’t normally have,” junior Jennifer Compton, a representative of Korea on the topic of women’s rights, said. “For example, a girl in my room wrote an amendment stating that women shouldn’t have rights, but we knew she was just playing along with her country’s position on the subject. It just ended up being really funny instead of serious.” Though it may be difficult, students seem to have jumped over the country position hurdle quite well, with delegates putting on truly convinc ing acts of country repre sentation. “Interact ing with people from other countries was really enlightening. I didn’t know Iowa was so multicultural,” senior Greg Shirbroun said. “Everyone adapted really well to their country’s opinions. Who knew I was actually Venezuelan on the inside.” Students were required to be serious for the most part during the conference, but were able to spend both Thursday and Friday night relaxing with their peers. “I went for the first time this year because everyone told me it was fun,” senior Emily Kawaler said. “I almost fell asleep during my conferences, but we had a lot of fun after they were over. It was worth going on the trip.” Model UN is not only a great way to learn about the real United Nations and other cultural viewpoints, but it is also an open forum for students around the state to interact with one another and discuss their views on current world issues. As the word about Model UN has spread around Ames High, more students have joined each year. Continue the tradition and check out Model UN for yourself.