Monday, October 26, 2015

"Why Model UN Matters" response by Nicole Bohannon


This is part of a series by Global Classrooms DC, an education program under the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area that uses Model United Nations as an activity and tool to teach international issues and geopolitics to students grades 5 – 12. Many of the current and former interns and staff have participated in Model U.N., and for many it has been a reason for the field we study and ultimately has a soft place in our hearts. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you our memories of Model U.N., and the reasons we believe it matters. This series was sparked by the recent publication of “What Model U.N. Is, and Why It Matters,” by Spencer Mariotti in The Huffington Post – Teen Edition

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Model U.N.

I came into high school shy and awkward, with some writing potential but no speaking skills. I had some idea that I wanted to be a journalist, but otherwise no ambition. In fact, I only started doing Model U.N. in sophomore year of high school because my friends had joined the club as freshmen to boost their college applications (their words, not mine).

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Model U.N.
But then I was assigned to represent Afghanistan in the Disarmament and International Security Committee in my first conference, and I loved every part of the process. I loved researching about nuclear non-proliferation, especially as a controversial country at the time. I loved working with the students representing North Korea, Iran and Iraq, three states I had been taught to automatically be wary of, but in Model U.N. had become my allies. I loved artfully dodging questions from the United States, working hard to stay in line with my country’s beliefs, and writing working papers to perfectly outline policies.

I ended up winning the Best Delegate award and the gavel at my first conference ever, but I couldn’t care less. I only cared about learning how speak up more, even when the introverted side of me had no desire to do so. I was invested in writing faster and clearer position papers, not only to set an example for my club members but also prepare more for the conferences in the future. Above all, I loved being able to solve any problem that came my way, whether I was Egypt solving the water crisis in the Middle East or Colin Powell trying to prevent nuclear war in Iran in 2003.

I loved artfully dodging questions from the United States, working hard to stay in line with my country’s beliefs, and writing working papers to perfectly outline policies.
That passion has taken me through college as I continued doing Model U.N. and as I’ve worked in DC at a variety of internships and jobs. I can definitively say that my life would have been very different if I hadn’t discovered Model U.N.

Author's Bio: Nicole Bohannon is a senior at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, studying European and Latin American affairs, and Program Coordinator for Global Classrooms DC at UNA - NCA. Born and raised in Washington, DC, she has always had a strong interest in international politics. She has worked and interned in non-profits, think tanks, and consulting groups in high school and college. Before working at Global Classrooms DC, she interned for the Atlantic Council in their Transatlantic Relations Program.


Monday, October 19, 2015

"Why Model UN Matters" response by David Berris


This is part of a series by Global Classrooms DC, an education program under the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area that uses Model United Nations as an activity and tool to teach international issues and geopolitics to students grades 5 – 12. Many of the current and former interns and staff have participated in Model U.N., and for many it has been a reason for the field we study and ultimately has a soft place in our hearts. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you our memories of Model U.N., and the reasons we believe it matters. This series was sparked by the recent publication of “What Model U.N. Is, and Why It Matters,” by Spencer Mariotti in The Huffington Post – Teen Edition

Last week, I read an article after a group of my fellow Model U.N. nerds shared it on Facebook to show their true love for what we spend many of our weekends doing. The article is entitled “What Model U.N. Is, and Why It Matters,” and was written by a high school student from Branford, Connecticut who is the President and Founder of his school’s Model U.N. club. Published in The Huffington Post – Teen Edition, the article embodies the impact that Model U.N. has had on the lives of so many students of all ages that continue their pursuit of being global students while debating key issues that so many countries face today.

While reading this article, I began to think back to how I got started with Model U.N. As a high school freshman, I still did not understand the value of extra-curricular activities. I wanted to go home everyday and continue the video game that I had stopped playing the night before. My Mom came home from work one day, and gave me the choice of joining Student Council or Model U.N. There was no way I was joining Student Council, so I unwillingly stayed after school the next Tuesday for the first Model U.N. meeting of the year. I signed up for our first conference at another local high school where I represented Israel in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly. I sat there in silence the first day of the conference, not wanting to be there and stubborn to not succumb to the wishes of my mother. The next day, I mustered up enough courage to get up and speak. I fell in love, and have done Model U.N. ever since.

"I sat there in silence the first day of the conference, not wanting to be there and stubborn to not succumb to the wishes of my mother."

People ask me all the time why I love Model U.N., and I can no longer give them a concrete answer that summarizes every detailed aspect as to why I love it. There are too many reasons. It has become such a huge part of my life to the point where it is second nature to me. When a massive news story breaks or a debate in class sparks controversy, I immediately think about how this can tie into a Model U.N. committee. Yes, the obsession is that real. Now I would never say that all those participate in Model U.N. are as in love with it as I am, but I can say with 100% certainty that all MUN delegates will agree with me that Model U.N. matters.

As the article says, “Model U.N. is so much more than simply playing ‘make-believe.’”

It’s more than just learning about how the world works. You acquire critical skills that help students become an independent and critical individual. From public speaking, negotiating, writing, and networking, a Model U.N delegate no longer is just a student, but a global student that cares about the world, its issues, and the ways in which they can be solved. As the article says, “Model U.N. is so much more than simply playing ‘make-believe.’”

As the Head Delegate of The George Washington University Model U.N. team and a Global Classrooms DC Curriculum Development Specialist for the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, I can truly say that my passion for Model U.N. has given me great opportunities that I would not normally have as just a typical college student.

Author's Bio: David Berris, is a senior at The George Washington University majoring in International Affairs and a Global Classrooms DC Curriculum Development Specialist at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, and has been heavily involved in the Model United Nations team since his freshmen year. Since his sophomore year, he been the Head Delegate of GW's nationally recognized Model U.N. team. He is in charge of teaching freshmen delegates how Model U.N. works on the collegiate level, and has also worked with middle school and high school students from around the United States and the world to teach them Model U.N. He is very dedicated to youth empowerment and helping students understand their place in the world as global citizens that have a say in their future.