By Veronica Dulin, GenUN Fellow
Many UNA-USA campus chapters have branched from Model United Nations organizations at colleges and universities, and many a student has wandered into a UNA interest meeting to find out that they can use their debate and writing skills to effect change in the real world. UNA-USA can empower you to turn your Model UN experience into impact.
Currently, several chapters function as joint Model UN-UNA organizations. These students engage their community and government in discussions and movements towards better US-UN relations, while at the same time traveling the country to compete at Model United Nations conferences. And some chapters even combine the two facets of their chapters, uniting advocacy and Model UN by putting on conferences, helping out in classrooms, and teaching debate and international relations from kids elementary to high school age. Getting kids involved in Model UN allows us to pass on our knowledge and support for the United Nations to the next generation of advocates. Plus, it’s a fantastic programming idea that has numerous benefits for your chapter, the kids, and your community.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, the largest African-American sorority in the U.S, is partnering with UNA-USA to educate more middle and high school students about the UN. At UNA Georgetown, we collaborated with the Maryland Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter to teach middle school students about global issues using the UNA-USA Model UN app. Below are a few programming ideas to start your own initiative—consider partnering with your local AKA for maximum impact!
Model UN Programming Ideas:
- Classrooms: Plenty of teachers or advisors need help in their classrooms, whether it’s in an after school setting or during a class. See if your local school districts allow volunteers, and then contact Model UN clubs in your districts. You can come in once a week and help the kids with speech prep, writing, policy, and parole pro. You might even be able to prepare short lesson plans that the teacher can reuse for later classes!
- Mini-Conferences: One day conferences are great practice runs for high schoolers that are looking to attend those weekend events. It’s a low cost way to get the kids some experience, as you can request a room on campus, and high schoolers also get a look at a college that they might want to attend. Your members can staff the committee and offer on site advice and guidance to kids to help them evolve as debaters and critical thinkers.
- Large Conferences: Many colleges put on large conferences, multi-day conferences for high schoolers. These require more resources and ambition and might grow out of smaller simulations that you run, if demand is high.
Benefits to the Kids
- Critical Thinking: Model United Nations teaches invaluable critical thinking skills to school kids elementary to high school age. Learning to look at every facet of a problem and work through it to find a practical, inventive solution is something that can benefit them in any professional or academic setting.
- Debate & speech: Participating in MUN increases kids confidence in themselves and their confidence in their ability to communicate with others. Improving their cooperation, speechmaking, and argumentation builds them essential skills.
- Knowledge & Appreciation for the UN: Kids who engage in MUN have a leg-up over their peers regarding familiarity with international history, international law, and have a foundation for building strong support for the United Nations.
Benefits to Your Community
- Helping out Teachers or Community Centers: Along with teaching anywhere from five to eight classes a day, the educators that take on the task of running a Model UN organization devote hours of their time and effort to helping kids realize their full potential. Some of them have no experience with MUN but have heard of the benefits for students, and some are old hats that have been heading a club for decades; either way, they could use the helping hands of knowledgeable volunteers to assist them in creating a fantastic team.
- More educated kids: The community benefits when its children are better educated, and MUN also opens the door to other types of education and advocacy efforts that the kids can undertake themselves, letting them effect real, necessary change in their own towns.
- Attitudes Towards the UN: A younger generation is learning about the triumphs, challenges, and realities of the United Nations and international system, and will be able to take up the mantle as a new generation of advocates!
Benefits to Your Chapter
- Connections & Exposure: Building a community presence allows chapters to get name recognition for their efforts, which can translate into more successful advocacy and fundraising projects. It also allows chapters to make connections with different non-profit or education oriented organizations, from the school district, to their local UNA chapters.
- Skill Building: Whether you are an education major, a political science guru, or just want to hone your skills for the next college conference, teaching MUN to younger students keep the knowledge fresh in your mind and looks great on a resume.
- It’s A Great Experience: This is my favorite part of MUN. On a break from university I served as the Model UN advisor for my old high school for sixth months, and it was one of the most rewarding, inspiring things I’ve ever done. Getting to watch the students progress from meeting to meeting, seeing the shy kid stand up and give a speech in front of a committee, being blown away by a sophomore who understands United States drone policy much better than most of your peers, and certainly yourself, is incredible. Giving kids these experiences and these abilities will create a lasting impact on them, and that’s really what makes it worth it.
Learn about UNA-USA’s Model UN app here. If you have any questions about how to build a Model UN program, contact local chapters or organizations, or start a conference, feel free to contact Veronica Dulin at UNA-Georgetown, she’d love to help! - firstname.lastname@example.org