Young Delegates Converge at United Nations
by Secondary Humanities teacher, Eileen Wilson
The Model United Nations (MUN) is a popular club at YIS that allows students to debate issues of global importance with their counterparts from other schools. The proceedings and organization of the event is meant to allow the aspirants to work in an atmosphere true to that of the United Nations. Ten YIS delegates recently travelled to the Bangkok MUN held at the United Nations Conference Center hosted by International School Bangkok.
The air of officiality provided by the venue was a fitting backdrop for the keynote speech from a USAid manager who shared her experiences and insight. We were also fortunate to hear from two sisters, Sri Lankan refugees living in Bangkok, who spoke eloquently of their uncertain lives, challenges and how ordinary citizens could help others like them.
Delegates dispersed into their respective committees delivering position papers, lobbying and developing resolutions, and intensely debating real-world current and pressing issues. The atmosphere was one of excitement, but also nerves, as the participants endeavored to their feet and familiarize themselves with their surroundings. As the days progressed, a much more relaxed atmosphere permeated proceedings despite debate heating up simultaneously. This was evident throughout all of the committees, where humour interjected serious debate. On the final day, all of the delegates convened in the General Assembly, to debate the best resolutions from each of the committees and to deal with an emergency crisis. This was clearly the most intense day of debate, with grand and impassioned speeches being delivered by numerous delegations. The proceedings concluded with an ex-Assistant Secretary General offering delegates an insight into the workings of the UN, commenting on its successes and challenges.
It was an extremely enjoyable and memorable, though exhausting, experience for the students, who worked very hard. YIS delegates were highly engaged in debate throughout and were fine ambassadors of our school.
Below are a few thoughts from the students regarding their experience:
'My first ever MUN conference was an experience I'll never forget, as it hosted a plentitude of new concepts, closer bonds, and opened me up to the idea of MUN. Whilst it was one of the steepest learning curves I've ever faced, I absorbed so much information about good debating and foreign relations, but also learned so much about myself and how I responded in these new situations.'
'This was my second IASAS conference so I was less nervous when entering my committee. I felt like I had more freedom compared to the first year and I was able to introduce myself to others and make speeches more willingly. It was a great conference in terms of fruitful debate and also actually enjoying the interaction and collaboration between delegates.'
'This Bangkok conference was truly a once in a lifetime experience being able to debate inside a real UN hall. I was able to not only gain confidence with my public speaking, but also get an in depth understanding for some world's issues. It honestly has inspired me to be an advocate for the world and those less privileged than myself.'
MUN certainly opens up the world to students through researching and following global news, and through fruitful discussion. They become aware of, and interested in, world issues, and begin to realise that they as individuals can make a difference. Recently, alum Yuki Nitta, class of 2014, was accepted as an intern at the United Nations in New York. He would be the first to admit that he was shaking in his boots when he attended his first Tokyo conference, but soon his nerves dissipated and he jumped into debate with great enthusiasm. His interests led him to study Economics in London. He is very excited to be working with the UN for the next few months; real opportunity which he would not have had the chance to seize had he not been in MUN.
See the IASAS Recap 2017 video link, provided by International School Bangkok.