Capping off a two-and-a-half-year career in the Model United Nations (MUN) program, four Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) students convinced students from around the world to support their points of view at a conference in New York.
Lindsey Wala, Mitchell McGuire, Colin Nossek and Rebecca Carr went to the Big Apple April 11 through 13 to participate in the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model UN Conference.
“We chose to attend this conference both because it was ‘international’ and because it was specifically for middle school students,” said Laurel Wala, mother of Lindsey and a parent advisor.
Teacher-advisor Kristi Kisler, has taken her club to conferences in California and throughout Arizona, but this was the largest group the RCMS MUN students have seen.
The conference had 1,445 students from all over the U.S. and other countries such as Canada, the Cayman Islands, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Turkey.
“It was intimidating and exciting,” said Lindsey.
Mitchell said he had to use his powers of persuasion to get his point across.
“I take charge and say ‘this is what we should do,’” he said.
Lindsey said she stood tall and talked loud.
She would have had to because the caucuses she and Mitchell each belonged to had over 200 students.
“There were a lot of kids,” said Lindsey.
But the RCMS students held their own, getting two of the six resolutions they initiated passed. Mitchell worked with Rebecca to pass a resolution to support sustainable tourism in Sierra Leone, the country they represented in the World Tourism Organization.
Model UN is not associated with the actual United Nations, but students from grades six to 12 learn about world issues, improve their public speaking, negotiation and writing skills.
“The goal is not to promote the United Nations, but to help make our kids better leaders in whatever profession they choose,” said Laurel.
Other skills the students practice include research, informal debate, organizational development and rules of decorum.
Laurel said as they move up in the organization, they become committee chairs, write preliminary research for delegates, and even run the financial plans and conference plans. They troubleshoot problems, and learn how to run small, non-profit organizations as their school develops conferences.
“I might add that as more and more schools come on board, many colleges see participation in Model UN or other academically related activities such a Mock Trial and ACADEC as a plus for the type of students they want to recruit,” said Laurel.
This summer, Lindsey will participate in a summer program at U.C. Berkeley hosted by the Best Delegate Program run by two former MUN students.
So far, the Model UN program has only been run at the middle school. Next year, Laurel will take the program to the high school and have Ted Tatum serve as her teacher advisor.