York House Represents at Model UN Conference

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.

Emma-Jane at CAHSMUN 2019

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. 

CAHSMUN 2019

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.

CAHSMUN 2021

YHS Peer Listening: Students Helping Students

After a pilot year last year, just in time for Term 3, the YHS Peer Listening program is formally launching as a means of offering more resources and one-to-one peer support to students, increasing intergrade connections, building further trust within the school community, and growing socio-emotional literacy. 

Since September, a group of 12 students have been going through intensive training with Senior School counsellor, Ms. Kristen Drozda, to become Peer Listeners. Highlights of the training included a workshop with the Crisis Centre of British Columbia, learning about the resources available online and in the community that are easily accessible, but not as well-known, and discussing the power of listening presently over attempting to solve problems. 

“As an experienced School Counsellor, I am proud of and grateful for our Peer Listener students who are learning how to care for both themselves and others. I truly believe in the value of the Peer Listening program as my co-counsellor, Ann Downie, and I are committed to supporting students in any way possible and want to promote that emotional wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing. As a community, we all have a part to play,” said  Ms. Drozda

Peer Listeners are available to provide students with the option of one-to-one peer support. The school has trained First Responders for physical health, and now, YHS is proud to have trained Peer Listeners who can help support our students’ mental health. 

While working with the school counsellors, Peer Listeners learn the importance of confidentiality, empathic listening, self-care, and balance. They recognize that it’s not always easy for students to talk to an adult and are there to listen and let students know that no concern is too small to be acknowledged.

“Peer Listening is a program I am very proud to be a part of. As a Grade 11 Yorkie, I know that Yorkies have a lot to juggle – work, studying, exercise, family and friends, and everything important to us. It can be stressful to balance our full plates, all while taking care of ourselves. Peer Listening provides a safe place where students can talk anything that’s on their mind. By increasing the resources available in our community, I think we can create an even more interconnected environment for students to be heard,” shared Peer Listener, Isabel M (Gr 11).

This week, YHS Peer Listening will launch their website which will be available to all Senior School students. Students can contact Peer Listeners directly through email or in person during their shifts. 

Want to get a sense of what Peer Listening is about? Watch this video!

To learn more about supporting yourself and others, watch this Ted Talk!