MUN: Changing Our World and Ourselves

Written by Janelle Garrett, Lower Secondary Coordinator

From March 13-17, YCIS Pudong students joined students from 60 different countries and schools from around the world representing Algeria as delegates at the 26thannual Beijing Model United Nations (BEIMUN) conference. With the theme, “Security, Sovereignty, and Sustainability: Pre-emptive Measures in a Changing World” students collaborated, debated and negotiated to try to build consensus around innovative solutions to complex global problems.  These world issues included: deforestation of the Amazon,  preventing cyberterrorism, establishing frameworks against corruption and asking new questions on human rights like reconciling cyber sovereignty with internet freedom.

Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation in which students take on the roles of ambassadors to the United Nations, engaging in debate on real issues from the perspective of their assigned national identities, representing that country’s unique positions and values. Students learn to think critically about global issues as they try to come up with policies that are feasible, can get support, and can actually address the problems at hand. It is great training for life.

“Putting yourself in the position of actual diplomats helps you realize how difficult it is to really forge consensus and collaborate with other people. You meet a lot of people, learn a lot about teamwork and learn that as important as the topics are, so are relationships if you want to actually get things done.” Sam Lewis, Year 10

“At school, we’re constantly expected to memorize things to spit back out on tests, but life can’t be carefully planned and crammed for. MUN helps me develop the crucial ability to think on my feet and form cohesive arguments as I take in information. It’s hard because you don’t know exactly what is coming, but the more you do it, the better you get.” Isabelle Chang, Year 10

Jeffrey Tu, Year 9, appreciates meeting and spending time collaborating with older, brilliant students and getting mentored. He loves being part of the MUN community worldwide and making friends from different conferences. He also credits MUN with helping him with his public speaking and learning to be confident in his own voice.

“I like learning about what’s really going on in the world and not just what’s on the news, but what the underlying issues are and what we can actually do to solve these issues. I also like talking to different brilliant people who have interesting ideas and want to gain a greater understanding and look creatively at an issue from different perspectives. It makes me a better global citizen.” Jonathan Lim, Year 9

The keynote speakers, the Q & A session with the US Ambassador, and sessions with other guest speakers who are leaders in their fields from leading intellectuals, engineers, environmentalists, journalists, and activists really made the conversations and ideas at this MUN conference better, shared Jeffrey and Jonathan.

All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience for all involved, as expressed by Mr. Zaid Saleh (Year 6 Co-Teacher), who accompanied our YCIS Pudong delegation to Beijing, “the quality of debate was truly outstanding with each and every one of our students displaying excellent skills in writing and delivering speeches, to breathtaking rebuttal against a range of complex global issues, holding their own against older, highly experienced MUN delegates from schools right across the globe.”

This year students at YCIS Pudong will participate in five MUN conferences—each of these valuable and fun experiences that build confidence, speaking and leadership skills, develop a stronger awareness of global issues, and offer our students the chance be part of an incredible global community inspired to change the world.