BOONE — Millennium Charter Academy’s Model United Nations team recently received two honors in a competition at Appalachian State University.
The team of Elizabeth Campbell and Laura Browne, who formed a delegation for China, received a first place award and the team of John Brooke and Andrew Burciu received a superior second place award. Burciu and Brooke represented Portugal.
Program spokesperson and academy teacher Mike Drury explained the model UN is a simulation that involves students in real world current events and teaches them about politics, diplomacy and varying perspectives from different cultures.
“This is similar to what UN members do in New York,” said Drury. “Each student has to research and know where the country they represent stands on issues. They really get into the character of their assigned country. This is my first year at the school and when I saw how passionate the kids are about this I wanted to be involved.”
This competition had participants debate if Israel and Palestine should be combined into one state, support for government or rebel causes in Syria’s civil war and allowing Iran to have a nuclear program. Additional model UN events are held in the spring as well as fall.
“In our resolution for Syria we decided to put in peacekeeping troops and non-lethal aid,” said Laura Browne, who represented China in the model UN. “We asked the Syrian leader to be less harsh on his people but we didn’t go further than that because China likes the government that is in Syria.”
MCA student Riley Cullen, who represented Germany, said her delegation backed the resolution to send in peace keeping troops.
“We tried but none of our resolutions passed,” said Monica Burciu, who represented Russia. “We were pretty much against everything but Syria. This was fun to do. What’s not fun about arguing? Oh, and France was so aggravating.”
All of the students said they quickly learned to respect the power of China and other groups representing large and powerful countries who could stop a resolution with a single veto.
“Before model UN I thought news was stupid,” said student Ana Sapp. “I now respect news because I understand better what’s going on.” She also said the assembly opened her mind up. She said she now knows not all advertising and news is true.
Drury said students volunteer to participate on the UN teams, often putting in long hours on research.
“If you are incorrect when you speak they (other participants) know it,” said Elizabeth Campbell, who also represented China. “Once they catch you it all goes down hill from there so it’s a lot of fun but it’s a lot of hard work.”
Participants also talked about learning subtle psychological strategy for the assembly such as stuffing their binders with random facts on paper to intimidate others.
Program adviser Pamela Braley worked with Drury on the assembly this year and said the academy has been involved with the assembly for five years.
“I had actually seen this program in another school,” said Braley. “The passion students develop for world issues and how deeply it expands their knowledge base is remarkable. The level of understanding required to see something from another country’s standpoint for 12- to 13-year-olds is critical thinking at its best. It’s good for their brains as well as their enthusiasm.”
Braley said civic engagement demonstrated by participation in the assembly is an important part of the academy’s goals to create citizens who participate in their government.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.