High school students interested in global politics will have the opportunity to participate in an introductory Model United Nations conference at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Oct. 26.
“We want to make Model United Nations more accessible to high school students,” said Byron Edwardson, conference organizer and high school senior. The conference, called Beginners Education for the Valley Model United Nations (BEVMUN), is designed to engage students who aren’t familiar with the Model United Nations format and teach them foundational skills.
Model United Nations is an extracurricular activity for high school students, giving them an opportunity to role-play as delegates to the United Nations and simulate committees like the World Health Organization and the Canadian House of Commons.
Participants in Model United Nations are assigned a country to represent and given a scenario. Their task is to use diplomacy and persuasion to reach their country’s objectives while negotiating with other countries that have different agendas.
“It’s not a typical debate—not winning or losing,” Edwardson said. “It doesn’t matter how awesome your ideas are. If you don’t present an ability to adapt to what is thrown at you, you won’t have success.”
Those who succeed at Model United Nations pay attention to improving at researching, debating and public speaking. While there are memorized speeches, students must also become adept at responding to counters and changing situations.
“The elements of diplomacy are quite different from public speaking. A lot of it happens behind the scenes,” Edwardson said. He said many drafts are drawn up at Model United Nations conferences due to things students have discussed one-on-one with each other.
Extensive background pages are distributed to participants ahead of the conferences, outlining the topic and situation. The background pages for BEVMUN will be oriented for beginners and include definitions for common terms and jargon, tips for areas to research and suggestions for ways to prepare, such as developing writing and teamwork skills.
BEVMUN will also have opening workshops to advise participants on how to take their country’s policies and craft innovative solutions.
“If they don’t know how things are done then typical debates are dominated by people who have done it before,” said Edwardson. He said many Model United Nations conferences are limited for time so they jump into the debates, leaving new participants to figure it out on their own.
Passionate about philosophy and history, Edwardson first got involved with Model United Nations when he was in Grade 9. Although he was unsure of what to expect, in a short time he was hooked. While Model United Nations has been a positive experience for him, he has seen other students become discouraged. Organizing BEVMUN is one way he feels he can give back to the community and help people who are hesitant to try Model United Nations participate and grow in their skills.
Edwardson said his goal for BEVMUN is for the participants to become global citizens who develop soft skills to better understand the political landscape and how change is made. Proceeds from the conference will go towards the committees they debate at BEVMUN, such as the disease outbreak in Yemen and international cyber security.
Until Aug. 24, early registration for BEVMUN is $20 for students who will be in grades eight to 12. Registration and conference information is online at bevmun.com.