Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why Model U.N. Matters: Thinking Outside the Box


by Taylor Dumaine 

Taylor Dumaine served as a Global Classrooms DC Program Assistant during the summer of 2017. She currently attends the George Washington University, and is entering her junior year in the Elliott School of International Affairs. She's majoring in International Affairs with concentrations in development and Asia.

My high school experience can be summed up pretty well by the fact that I was voted “Most Opinionated” by my peers. While winners of this superlative in years past saw this as a bad thing, and others thought it was a mean superlative, I was in my element.

I was proud of my ability to think for myself, research issues, and come to an informed consensus about those issues. A lot of this is thanks to Model UN, and especially my coach and teacher Mr. DiNardo. 

Entering high school, I already knew that I loved international affairs and that I wanted to be a part of the team, although I did not join until my sophomore year. Going into it, I wasn’t a soft quiet kid – in fact, I was already pretty well-known for speaking my mind. 

Model UN and Mr. DiNardo taught me to put a little more thought into my opinions before opening my mouth so that I could be more persuasive and engage in a better dialogue on issues. I was consistently challenged to represent positions I didn’t agree with, and represent countries that had opposing positions on nearly every issue I cared about. But those challenges expanded my knowledge and understanding on those topics and about international affairs in general. 

Mr. DiNardo was also my AP US History and AP Government teacher for my last two years of high school. Having a role model and mentor who treated me and my passion seriously, while also helping me to grow as a thinker, a student, and a person, was an invaluable experience that has had a profound impact on my life. 

Model UN encouraged me to think outside the box and speak up, but not before I carefully thought through the reality of certain topics and situations. It teaches kids to think critically not just about international issues, but also solutions and how various organizations and stakeholders are working on the solutions. 

While I was a crisis delegate for most of my Model UN career, I was able to tackle current international issues in historical and fictional contexts, challenging me to think as creatively as possible. Working in the ad hoc UN Security Council committee kickstarted my engagement with current events and the role of the international community in those events. 

I believe Model UN is one of the best things for young people to get involved in to grow into a better researcher, debater, and thinker. 

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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 UN, and for many it has been a reason for the field we study and ultimately has a soft place in our hearts. 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 

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