First ISA Model United Nations Conference A Success

Last Friday, the ISA Model United Nations (MUN) club held its first-ever in-house Model UN ISA (MUNISA) Conference. As most international MUN conferences for this school year have been cancelled across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ISA MUN student leadership team decided to organise their own one-day conference on the ISA campus so that students could experience the energy of an in-person MUN event, in spite of the circumstances.

Model United Nations, also known as Model UN or MUN, is an extracurricular activity in which students role play as delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees at MUN conferences, which are organised by the school MUN club. Believed to have first been held in the 1920s, thousands of students worldwide have participated in MUN, to develop their public speaking, debate, and leadership abilities, as well as critical thinking and teamwork skills.

At the ISA MUN conference, students were divided into two committees, the Human Rights Council and the International Security Committee, and engaged in discussing pressing global issues while honing their negotiation, problem-solving, and debate skills. The Human Rights Council discussed protecting individual rights in a pandemic as well as the Uyghur “re-education” camps in China. The International Security Committee debated the militarization of the Arctic and addressed the threat of satellites to international security. 

Creating a lasting tradition

For MUN Advisor and Individuals and Societies teacher Mary Lowe, the conference was not only a way for students to become better informed of global issues and how international diplomacy works but also, “as it was our first ISA MUN conference, I wanted students to feel as if they were an important part of establishing a tradition here at ISA that could be enjoyed by students for years to come”.

For Lowe, her highlight from the conference was “the pride I felt in the MUN student leaders who empowered themselves in organizing the entire conference and leading the committees, but also just the engagement of every student who participated, whether they were experienced or new to the club. During the debates and negotiations, the energy and enjoyment of the students during the entire day made this event just so special for myself and everyone involved in organizing it. It was wonderful to know that during an unprecedented time due to the Covid pandemic, we could still organize something for students to safely participate in and enjoy outside of the classroom”.

Grade 11 students Hugo Boudier and Jain Newey Pacelli and Grade 12 student Trinabh Banerje headed up the leadership team which helped to organise the conference. For Hugo, one of his hopes for the conference was that it would “give us the opportunity to together strengthen the key skills that I believe MUN wishes to develop: global awareness, problem-solving, inquiry and communication. Through our debates, delegates were able to defend views on given topics, always having in mind the countries they were representing and the issue at hand. From our “veterans” to our “newbies”, all were able to develop these future assets at their own rhythm and with their own objectives in mind.”

Hugo enjoyed the challenge of organising the MUN conference at short notice and hoped to “organise the most immersive, engaging and enjoyable experience for all delegates. My highlight from the conference was seeing a new delegate talk to an experienced one at the end of the long and intense day and say “I had so much fun”. As this was really our main goal throughout the organisation, we were very pleased that the delegates had not only learned a lot but also enjoyed themselves. Personally, I continue MUN because I take real pleasure in participating. I was very glad we were able to pass that on.”

For Lowe, it was so heartwarming to have so much support on the day from so many in the ISA community “Communications put time and effort into creating polished posters and certificates, the administration supported the conference from the start and the Head of Upper School Mr. Schaffner took the time to give a wonderful opening speech to the students while the Upper School office helped us to arrange rooms, IT and facilities supported us throughout the day, and teachers gave us their full support. It was amazing to see so many giving their all to make this a special event!”

At ISA, students push their boundaries in everything they do and are taught to take on new challenges with confidence, creativity and a greater belief in their potential. Not letting a global pandemic stop them, the MUN students worked incredibly hard researching these important issues and hope that the conference will become an annual tradition for years to come.