Last week eleven Maine Coast Waldorf High School students traveled to the University of Southern Maine in Gorham to participate in the annual MEMUNC Model UN Conference. The three-day event, the first that was held in-person in three years, brought together nearly 400 high school students from all around Maine to participate, honing their skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing, and research.
All students did a wonderful job, and sophomores Phoebe Veitch and Will Barmby and junior Angus Burke received special recognition for their contributions: Phoebe and Will earned Distinguished Delegate awards, while Angus received an honorable mention.
The Maine Coast delegation of eleven diplomats worked hard over the past few weeks to prepare for the conference in an elective class with High School chair David Barham. Prior to the conference students are assigned a country, two committees, and two topics. The class is a combination of learning as much as possible about a specific country and the specific issues facing it. They also learn about the formal debate strategies that are used in the real-world United Nations, and the way that decisions are made.
The conference itself gives students “a sense of how international diplomacy works,” explained Barham. “Why is it so complicated and so difficult to get stuff done in the world? Everybody’s got a different take on an issue, so they learn about the patience needed to appreciate the complexities of an issue.”
Students engaged with a wide range of issues from microplastics, climate change, to the invasion of Ukraine. Barham explained that the Waldorf approach to education allowed for Maine Coast students to thrive in this kind of environment: “Our students are able to think on their feet and are not afraid of public speaking… they have a really high social intelligence that allows them to figure out who they can work with and make connections—their learning has not been textbook learning.”
A big congratulations to all participants and a big thank you to all chaperones— we’re already looking forward to next year!