A record number of Maine Coast Waldorf high school students attended this year’s Model United Nations conference at USM Gorham from after school on Wednesday, May 16 through late afternoon on Friday, May 18. Twenty-nine students, representing all four grades in the high school (with a preponderance of ninth graders), prepared for weeks for the conference. Preparation included learning about one’s country (and this year our students represented Albania, Algeria, Brazil, Cyprus, Latvia, Liberia, Madagascar, tiny Nauru, Turkmenistan and Vietnam) but also one’s committee and its topics. Engaged in powerful questions facing the modern world moment, the students were impressive in their preparation and willingness to get into their committees and argue for their country’s position- even when that position diverged form their own personal opinion. All of the students did well, with particular honors going to seniors Rodrigo Cortes Estevez (representing Vietnam in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations/ASEAN) and Sylvia Holland (representing Brazil in the World Health Organization/WHO).
Life is not all research and debate in Model UN land. The students, along with 600 or so fellow high schoolers from 34 Maine and MA high schools, slept in stripped down college dorms, ate meals in the dining hall and hung out and socialized each night until the midnight curfew. As one can imagine, the midnight curfew, a delight for most of the students, represents the hardest part of Model UN for the adult chaperones, used to a much earlier bedtime!
Model UN in our school is a weekly after school elective. The group began meeting about six weeks before the conference with Mr. Barham and wrote position papers on each of the topics from their respective committees and also spent time learning about the complex rules of procedure for conference debate and writing of resolutions. It was such fun to walk around from committee room to committee room watching our students putting forth their very best. Imagine being part of the 195 member General Assembly and arguing your country’s position on managing Earth’s waste and Kurdish self determination or stepping back in time to 1948 in the Historical General Assembly and debating the drafting of there Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Independence of Korea. It is inspiring and gives one a deep sense of hope for the future to watch this generation look for solutions to these and other seemingly impossible problems and crises.
A tremendous round of thanks to Liva Laswell and Victoria Stefanakos who accompanied us to USM Gorham and were incredibly involved and supportive. An exhausting but deeply satisfying three days. If parents have any questions about the Model UN program at the high school, please drop a line.
Until next year’s MeMUNC XXI!