A dedicated group of eight White Mountain students spent a recent weekend participating in a Model UN event at nearby Plymouth State University. Two of the students, Arli Moyao-Ramirez ’21 and Fatimata Cham ’19, had approached History Department Chair Hiapo Emmons-Shaw about their interest in Model UN. They had been talking about ways to create an opportunity for White Mountain students to participate in Model UN and then by chance, Hiapo received an invitation to the PSU event.
They immediately set to work making plans and recruiting fellow students. They found that many of their classmates were interested and they soon had a formidable group including Liana Alford ’18, Ana Chambers ’19, Carter Chambers ’21, Rachel Dye ’20, Vendy Pospisilova ’20 and Djenebou Semega ’19. Each student was assigned a country to represent and a real-world issue they would need to work on solutions for with their assigned country’s best interest in mind. This involved a lot of research prior to the event and the completion of a position paper. At the event, both Liana and Arli were recognized for writing the “Best Position Paper” for their respective committees.
A number of the students had previously been a part of debate teams but found this to be a different experience. Liana described Model UN as “more nuanced and focused on diplomacy.” Whereas in debate you continuously try to articulate and prove your point (and are then assigned a score by a judge based on how well you do this), Model UN is focused on coming to a resolution. Each student makes their argument based on what is best for the country they represent, but then must be willing to compromise and make concessions as they work toward a solution that everyone can agree on. A simple majority is all that is needed to pass a resolution, but Carter was happy that his group was able to pass a resolution unanimously, recognizing that in the real world this is much more likely to lead to a positive outcome long-term.
Hiapo noted a number of benefits that the students gained from this experience including “practical experience with the democratic process, the ability to think about global events from different perspectives and the knowledge that with effort they can create change.” The students agreed with this assessment and mentioned a number of skills that they felt they developed throughout the weekend event: articulating ideas clearly, serving as a leader, finding common ground with other people and having the courage to be the first to speak on an issue. Liana noted that she had to “learn to step outside herself and see an issue from many other perspectives besides just her own.” They all agreed that is was an incredibly valuable experience and look forward to participating in similar events in the future.