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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Class hosts 44th Annual Model U.N. Conference

    UA students played host to more than 200 high schoolers this weekend in a mock United Nations session that was designed to shed light on the complexities and challenges of creating international policies.

    “”Our understanding of other cultures is much more important now than it was before,”” said Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., at the 44th Annual Arizona Model United Nations Conference held Friday and Saturday at the Student Union Memorial Center.

    “”We live in an ever-globalizing world,”” said Kolbe, the event’s keynote speaker. “”An event like this gives students more awareness about global issues, which I don’t think is common among high school students.””

    The mock U.N. session was led by the UA class members of Model U.N. Workshop, a political science course devoted to teaching the procedures, language and policies of the United Nations, said William Dixon, course instructor and adviser of the UA Model U.N. club.

    The class members and club participants come together each year to organize and run the Arizona Model U.N. Conference, which attracted students from 30 high schools this year to act as the ambassadors of 53 different countries in the U.N.

    The student groups were divided into separate workshops focused on different issues the U.N. would typically deal with, such as creating policies to address international terrorism and the nuclear situation in the Middle East.

    “”We had problems defining what exactly terrorism is, which at first, I didn’t think would be that difficult,”” said Rafael Vasquez, a sophomore from Westview High School in Avondale.

    Vasquez, who represented Peru, said when his group was asked to create resolutions that would address eliminating international terrorism, he realized how complex “”getting along”” could be.

    “”It was really difficult to get everyone to agree,”” Vasquez said. “”That really made me think, because if it’s that hard to get students to agree with each other, imagine how hard it can be to get leaders from different countries to see eye-to-eye.””

    Putting high school students in an environment where they have to debate their opinions in a restricted format was another challenge at the conference, said Lyndall Herman, the conference Secretary General and Model U.N. course preceptor.

    “”A lot of our job is training and preparing the students to learn and work under the rules of procedure,”” said Herman, a senior majoring in political science and Near Eastern studies. “”The different countries in the U.N. have to deal with each other and work under standard rules, and for a high school student to practice those as well, I think it really helps them understand the issues even more.””

    In addition to understanding global issues, the conference also gives insight on how to make changes and achieve cooperation between different viewpoints and governments, Kolbe said.

    But that doesn’t mean a delegate will always receive a desired response, said Dixon, who is also the head of the UA Political Science Department.

    “”The students also learn they have to understand and respect different points of view, even if it’s not what they want to hear,”” Dixon said. “”I think young people sometimes can get too comfortable in how they handle an issue, and this conference really puts problem solving into a more formal setting.””

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