Model United Nations - A Student Perspective
Maria is an ACS Hillingdon Grade 11 student, originally from Rio de Janeiro. She spoke to us recently about co-curricular activities at ACS Hillingdon, most specifically about Model United Nations; what it is, her involvement and what she has learnt from taking part in the programme.
What is Model United Nations?
Model United Nations is an academic or recreational activity in which participants assume the role of national ambassadors or representatives to debate and seek to solve global issues. Any UN body or agency can be simulated; the Security Council and General Assembly are the most popular.
How long have you been a member of Model United Nations?
I have been a member for 3 years. I first joined in 9th Grade and have been a member ever since. I have attended two THIMUN conferences in The Hague and a few others involving other schools in London. I plan on attending THIMUN online this year and remain involved with MUN until I graduate, allowing me to gain even more experiences with conferences and debates.
What made you want to be involved in Model United Nations?
Initially, what made me interested in joining Model United Nations (MUN) was its reputation; not only within the school but also on a global scale. After my first year as a participant, I returned as I developed a greater understanding of the issues and topics debated and became more intrigued by them. My interest in these issues has evolved more and more since my first year as a member of Model United Nations, making it a meaningful experience and part of my life for personal and academic growth.
What countries have you represented in the past, and what issue(s) stand out that you have debated?
I have represented the following delegations at Model United Nations:
- Practice debates: Norway, United Kingdom (UK) HILMUN (Cameroon)
- THIMUN: Botswana, Czech Republic
- ALCMUN: Iraq
The issues that I have debated and really stand out to me are:
- Implementing measures to ensure the protection of migrant children’s human rights
- The Threat of Cyber Interference to Democracy Promoting initiatives for community-based alternatives to imprisonment and greater use of early release from prison
- The question of force-feeding girls in West Africa
- Measures to eradicate domestic violence (femicide)
- Measures to reduce the social gap due to increasing poverty and unemployment, especially amongst youth following the COVID-19 crisis
What do you feel that you’ve learnt from being a part of Model United Nations?
One of the biggest things I have learned from MUN is how to view issues from a different perspective. Having represented such a wide range of countries for a variety of different issues, I have had to argue for perspectives I do not personally agree with. This was initially a challenge as it is difficult to separate your own perspectives from a debate involving such moving issues, however, through practice I was able to learn how to separate my opinions from what is needed in a debate.
Furthermore, participating in MUN debates has helped me gain confidence when speaking to a large number of people, as well as taught me how to make a strong argument through the use of language, rhetorical devices (such as emotional appeals), tone and many others. These skills require time and practice to develop, which I have had throughout these past three years due to MUN, and will in the future serve a multitude of purposes.
Lastly, MUN has encouraged me and taught me about the importance of being an informed citizen, not only about issues which impact myself but also about global issues. I have discovered the importance of being involved in resolving and combating such issues as I have been given the opportunity through a strong education to do so.
Why do you think involvement in school activities is important? I believe involvement in school activities is essential to personal growth and development, whether this is achieved through sports or academic clubs. There are infinite skills which one cannot only develop from within a classroom, and participating in school activities gives students access to these. Not only do they allow students to become better leaders, great team workers and communicators, and so much more, but they also provide students with relief from schoolwork and stress.
Furthermore, participating in school activities allows students to build connections with others from different backgrounds through experiences with students from other schools and countries. As someone who is involved in school activities, I deeply encourage others to not take these opportunities for granted and to participate in something they are interested in or passionate about.
Find out more about co-curricular activities at ACS Hillingdon.