Establishing a global view

First Posted: 11/15/2009

A group of students from Millennium Charter Academy had to put their beliefs aside for the day in order to assume the personas of different countries.
These students were not looking to become ex-patriots, they were participating in the middle school Model United Nations Security Council at Appalachian State University.
The Model Security Council is designed to provide a forum for select middle school students to try their hands at debating and writing resolutions regarding some of the topics that the United Nations is facing.
At each event teams are assigned to a country that is a member nation of the UN. All debates must be done as their country, meaning some students may have to look at different sides of issues than they are used to.
Your personal beliefs dont necessarily matter. You have to represent your country, said Jessica Williamson. It improves your debating skills because youre debating for the opposite of what you want sometimes.
Its a chance for kids in middle school to write up resolutions. Some of issues are ones the UN is currently facing, said Kenneth Erickson. You can learn the views of different countries and see both sides.
You start to learn a whole lot more about other countries, said Alicia Epperson of the experience.
The students were responsible for preparing for the event by doing research on their assigned countries. The issues up for debate at this session included the Palestinian situation, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti and North Korea and nuclear non-proliferation. They had to debate each of these issues and answer the questions raised as their country would.
Im Russia. A lot of people view they dont care about the rest of the world. But they really do care. Russia is one of the main supporters of the peace-keeping mission in Haiti, said Erickson. It really changed my views. The Palestinian people have rights, too. Even those views from Russia in the Model UN can carry over into American politics.
During the process the students learned a great deal about their respective countries and the way they address policy-making.
Vietnam goes with any country that wants peace, said Gentry Williamson.
The UK wants a bunch of power to keep peace, but they always have back-up plans, said Jessica.
The experience also provided incentives for the students to read up on current world events as well as do research on events that may soon become relevant again.
Our family, were very busy so we hardly ever watch TV. To prepare for this, you actually have to do research on it, said Jessica.
I would have never heard of a lot of this unless I did Model UN, said Gentry.
It gave me an idea of what it would be like to be a politician, said Griffin Spencer.
Some of the participating students this year were new to the Model UN program while others participated last year as well. For those making a return trip, this year provided them with a chance to catch up with friends made during previous events and to develop their debating skills further.
Coming back again was good since we were used to it more, said Emma Harrison. We had France for the first two sessions last year and thought we would have it again so we did all of our research for France. Then we found out we would be the UK and had to change positions in one-and-a-half-weeks.
The old hands even had some advice for their newest members.
If youre new there, find a country thats been there before and do joint resolutions with them. The first time I went, we knew nothing so we stuck with the UK group to learn the ropes, said Erickson.
For the first-time participants, the experience presented an exciting challenge, one they look forward to repeating.
It was kind of cool. You had to be professional. We learned a lot by watching them so at the end we had more confidence, said Gentry. Its good way to show how professional people are.
Its definitely a learning experience the first time you go, said Spencer. You get to meet a lot of new people.
MCAs participants are looking forward to returning to ASU in the spring for a new session. The younger members will get to participate in the middle school Security Council while the eighth graders will have the opportunity to try out the high school version.
This years participants came away with a number of awards. Mary Beth Browne and Jordan Francis, representing the UK, Jessica Williamson and Emma Harrison, also representing the UK, and Dylan Andes and Kenneth Erickson, representing Russia, all received best delegation awards. Peter Balogh and Will Campbell, representing China, received honorable mention.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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