by Emma-Jane, Grade 12
Youth are often catalysts for societal progress, offering renewed passion, determination, and ingenuity to help tackle the world’s issues. From Greta Thunberg to Malala Yousafzai, youth leaders are integral to inspiring and creating significant global change. Model United Nations (MUN) develops the virtues of leadership and activism by teaching young people to speak up and address world issues through discussion, debate, and collaboration, providing a platform for future leaders to develop. For example, at her very first Model United Nations conference, YHS Grade 9 student Clare said she “realized the importance of speaking up as that is the only way to participate and contribute your ideas.”
At a MUN Conference, students reenact the United Nations by representing states and debating and discussing the world’s pressing issues, such as child labour, climate change, and food insecurity. Students practice compromising, as well as writing resolutions to these issues. As Sofia P., a Grade 10 seasoned MUN student, puts it, “(MUN) provides me with lots of new knowledge about the world through battling real-life issues… teaching me more about the world we live in.” In addition, MUN exposes students to current events, foreign countries’ policies, and the complex global phenomenon, making students aware of the issues the world is facing and what it takes to tackle them.
Fundamentally, MUN develops public speaking and negotiation skills. Students write and give speeches in front of up to 80 people and solve problems in an environment of diverse views and opinions. Grade 9 student Diane explains that after attending her first MUN conference, “I learned how to come up with speeches on the spot… the fast-paced conferences greatly developed and challenged my critical thinking.” Unique to other forms of public speech, in MUN, students cannot just work alone; instead, they must negotiate, collaborate, and compromise. Veronica, in Grade 9, describes that at the MUN conference, “one should always try to form strong bonds with other people. That way, one can gain allies to collaborate on issues together.”
MUN continues to attract a diverse group of students year after year, and aids in developing their public speaking, problem-solving, and negotiation skills, helping them prepare to tackle whatever issues present themselves in their own lives. As a Grade 12 student who has been an active MUN participant for the past four years, I can now say that MUN has been the most influential extracurricular in my life. MUN has taught me so much, from politics and government to teamwork and activism. MUN has inspired me to pursue a career in politics and government, to try to help make the world a better place. As I graduate from York House, I, along with many other students, am so grateful to the teachers and administrators who have made MUN Club possible. Notably, all of the York House MUN Club members are incredibly appreciative of Mr. Coates, our Teacher Advisor, and his ceaseless dedication to the MUN Club and the students in it.
YORK HOUSE AT CAHSMUN 2021:
Our Model UN club had an exciting weekend (Nov 27-28) participating in the Canadian High Schools Model United Nations Conference (CAHSMUN), held annually in Vancouver, BC. Our students participated in their first “post-COVID” CAHSMUN and the atmosphere and energy from them was impressive! They worked hard for weeks, prior to the event, on their position papers. They acted as delegates from different countries and made powerful and effective motions to address UN problems.
Each year, CAHSMUN welcomes hundreds of delegates from high schools all over Canada and North America, and continues to expand student participation in an activity that helps develop public speaking skills, diplomatic attitudes, and critical thinking abilities.