Twenty-three Forman School students were among 56 schools and over 1,000 peers at Brown University’s annual Model United Nations (UN) event on November 6-8, 2015.
Forman students were placed on different committees based on their interests and strengths in three categories: General Assembly, Specialized Committees, and Crisis Committees. Each committee was required to face and solve real-world issues, whether past or present. With a long tradition of participation in the Model UN, it has become one of the most popular trips at Forman. In fact, students are already signing up for the next event at Yale University from January 21-24, 2016, according to Model UN Head Advisor Joe Odell. “We go twice a year: to Brown in the fall and Yale in the winter,” he said. “Students debate topics such as war, diplomacy, world hunger, world health, and economics.”
Participants acted as representatives for groups such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank as well as countries ranging from Libya to Iraq. Maureen Harris ’16 attended for her third consecutive year, and was chosen to lead the army in the Holy Roman Empire Catholic League. In this instrumental role on the Historic Committee, she was tasked with leading her group of 12 in tactical moves in the Thirty Years’ War. “There were five different groups from the Thirty Years’ War,” Harris said. “As Imperial General of the Catholic League Army, I had 72,000 troops and could do what I wanted with them. Every hour or so, our Committee Chairs would give us updates. I sat down with a map and planned out my strategies.” When Harris decided to send 60,000 troops to battle with another group, she was able to see the results play out. Although this was based on historical events, the outcome was completely undecided and hinged on the actions of the students. “In history, the Battle of White Mountain was won by the Catholic League, but in this simulation, we lost,” she said with a laugh. Her group members, who came all over the country, were “excited to be there” and dedicated to their roles. Beyond the wonderful experience of meeting “really interesting people” among over 12 countries, this event changed Harris’ perspective on her future. “Before I went to Model UN, I wanted to stick to my interest in science. Now, I realize I can do science but incorporate it with my skills that I learned at Model UN.”
At the Model UN, participants build confidence and become adept in areas which prepare them for future endeavors such as leadership, analytical thinking, research, and more. “Students improve interpersonal skills by working with kids from other schools. They are taken out of the comfort zone and come out of their shells,” Odell said. “The Model UN is particular with the way things are done. Students learn to debate, follow parliamentary procedure, and adhere to the proper verbiage.” Although some participants are apprehensive before the event, Odell explained, “We find that the students who are nervous often come out and thrive to the most.”
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