“Solving the world’s problems” is usually a euphemism for sitting around and shooting the breeze, but there is a class at Fort Campbell High School that really is tackling the world’s problems in the same manner that the world does.
The class is called Model United Nations (MUN), and it is an extra-curricular activity in which students role-play delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees. The hands-on learning allows students to confront a range of topics within the perspective of their assigned country or organization.
Through these experiences — during preparation, in committee sessions, and even in hallwaycaucuses — students develop an appreciation of differing viewpoints, the frustration of negotiation, the rewards of cooperation and a broader view of the human side of international relations and diplomacy.
FCHS competed in a MUN conference competition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 9-11, with three students earning honors.
Matthew Ellis was named an Outstanding Delegate with the topic of “Egyptian Uprising: Mubarak’s Cabinet,” in which he took on the role of a member of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s cabinet and worked to quell the populist uprising there from last year.
Matt Cline was named an Outstanding Delegate with the topic of “European Defense Initiative 2020.” Bailey Johnson received a Verbal Commendation for her work with the United Nations Security Council.
This week, Ellis, Johnson and Rabakaah Gaynor worked to put together a crisis situation for the rest of the class to work to resolve. The crisis is that a coalition of united Irish freedom fighters has obtained a deadly virus from Chinese and Russian government researchers. A devastated Russian economy has offered military and arms support to these freedom fighters for cash. Countries represented by the other students in the class must take sides and work to prevent the spread of the deadly agent.
Students are given a timeline of “events” that lead to the United Nations meeting of delegates or world leaders to determine how to best handle the crisis.
“Part of Model United Nations is: you might have a really strong stance on a certain issue, but for this crisis, you represent, say, Italy, so honestly, what you think really doesn’t matter because you’re playing the role of Italy,” said class instructor Ken Jankowski. “They have to do research and find some background about where they would stand on certain issues, who their allies are and so on.”
This is the fourth year for FCHS to have the MUN program, starting with just eight students and growing to a class of 23. The school MUN team competed at Johns Hopkins University last year, at George Washington University in 2010 and at Western Michigan University in the class’s first year, 2009. Jankowski plans to have the team compete at a second competition this year, the first time it has competed more than once in a school year.
“These kids are high-end kids that deal with world events and world affairs,” Jankowski said. “They are assigned a situation — and it could be present, past or future — and basically, they take on a role. Usually, it’s the leader of a country or a delegate, and it’s very interesting to hear how intelligent these kids are. You’re asking a 17- or 18-year-old to take on foreign issues and how to solve the problem within the country they have been assigned.
“This is real-life problem-solving. They have to work together within the committees, and you’ve got to find resolutions to these problems, but be able to speak in a way where you can get people to think your way and work together with others. That’s a huge trait, no matter what these kids decide to do after high school, be able to get up and speak, be able to be a leader and be able to problem-solve and come up with ideas. It’s a very unique class, but it has longlasting effects.”
The students enjoy the competition and the work that it entails.
“I’d say the best part of it for me was meeting people you have no prior experience talking to,” said Johnson about the Vanderbilt competition. “I had a girl from Colombia in the Security Council with me. You got to meet people you wouldn’t normally get to meet, you get to experience things you wouldn’t normally experience, and it’s a great challenge. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I was in the fourth Crusade, and we completely rewrote history,” said Gaynor. “They took over Alexandria and completely destroyed Egypt so that Egypt wouldn’t exist at this point in time. So, when we’re in there, we come up with completely opposite decisions and ideas that would completely rewrite history with anything that we were doing.”
“I would agree with that, because I was simulating the Egyptian revolution of last year,” Ellis said. “With some of the actions that I took — I was the Minister of the Interior, so I was in charge of all the police and security forces — I actually ended up taking out all of the revolution and the protestors within three or four days of the protests starting.”
The Model United Nations class and competition encourages students to work together to solve problems and learn diplomacy through public speaking. They are learning how to work successfully with others — on a global scale.
David Snow is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach David at 270-887-3295 or email@example.com.
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