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Second Annual Model United Nations Conference
Parliamentary procedure. Position Paper. Delegate. Final Resolution. These terms, among many others, were taught to grades 7 and 8 students in the span of a morning as they embarked on the second annual Model United Nations International School of Indiana (ISI) conference that took place from November 25 to 26.
“This conference is an opportunity for delegates to be introduced to a lot of real-world issues that they may not hear a lot about in their classrooms,” said grade 12 student and Secretary General of the Model UN Club Rose Schnabel. “We really wanted to expose these students to some of the global issues we currently have. This is a hands-on way to do it.”
The two-day conference, which spans the entirety of both school days, has a theme that will present itself in every activity. The theme this year was Discrimination, Exploitation, and Fear in the Age of Globalism. The students, referred to as delegates, are divided into groups and are assigned various countries in which they will represent. They work to write Position Papers, which are short essays that summarize their country’s position on a particular topic.
“I would be a part of Model UN in High School,” said grade 7 student Mara Maggard. “I learned a bunch of new words, and we practiced our writing skills because of the Position Papers. It’s an interesting club.”
Over the course of the conference, ISI welcomed several members of the Indianapolis community to speak on various topics related to the theme. On November 25, ISI hosted economic educator Amy Willis, who is also an ISI parent and Board Member.
“The delegates really loved to interact with her and she has such a great energy,” said Schnabel. “She was able to talk about economics because that’s what she specializes in, and how economics is something that is prevalent in many different committees. It sort of runs the world.”
Between the viewpoints that these experts were able to provide and the research that went behind the creation of the Position Papers, delegates were well-prepared to head into the debate portion of the conference. To take on the opinion of the country they were representing meant that they would have to put aside their own personal beliefs. This required that they remain open-minded, principled, and balanced, all skills that the delegates already have due to their International Baccalaureate education.
Through this two-day conference, students learned new skills, honed in on skills they already had and were immersed in a hands-on, collaborative learning environment.
“We really liked the format of the Model UN Conference because delegates can put themselves in a position and stand up for their country’s beliefs. It’s learning by immersion,” said Schnabel. “No matter how much you try to highlight that in your classroom, you do need the hands-on experience.”
Future Plans for the Conference
The High School Model UN Club members are the sole coordinators of the conference, and they have big plans for the future. As it becomes more established, the club hopes to expand the conference, even hosting other schools in the area and allowing them to be included in the immersive learning experience.
“I think that we have to build up the reputation for the conference and show them what we’re all about,” said Schnabel. “We’re really hoping that this year can serve as that so next year we can open it up to the greater Indianapolis community."