More than 30 students from Thomas Haney secondary attended the 17th annual Vancouver Model United Nations last weekend, and two returned home with awards.
The three-day conference wrapped up on Sunday at the Hyatt Regency downtown Vancouver. It is the largest high school, student-organized Model United Nations conference in North America.
Delegates at the conference develop diplomatic skills as they have to think critically and collaborate with others to propose constructive resolutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Every year the Vancouver Model UN brings together more than 1,000 students who are passionate and dedicated to bringing about global change.
At the conference, students are assigned to represent a nation in a debate surrounding a pressing moral issue that the global community currently faces. Topics have included global health, the environment, security, finance, economies, human rights and development. It teaches students about procedures at the United Nations, as well as educates them on global events and the importance of negotiations and listening to others.
The keynote speaker was Mohamed Fahmy, the journalist who spent 438 days in an Egyptian prison, falsely accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and fabricating news for Al Jazeera while he was bureau chief for the Qatari network in Egypt in 2013.
Thomas Haney Grade 12 student Marlowe Evans has been involved with the Model UN for the past two years and she says the rules of procedure can be complicated.
“It’s a strange mixture of formal and informal environment,” she said in an e-mail.
“I have to raise my placard if I want to speak, and I have to walk up to the podium. But when I get there I have the choice to either continue debate on our current topic or tell the committee a joke,” added Evans noting that’s what makes the event an easy place to make friends.
Fellow student Emily Kingsman says her love for debate has grown since becoming involved with the Model UN. She has gone for the past two years as well and is co-head delegate for Thomas Haney.
Francesca Andreolli who won the award for best researched at the event says the Model UN teaches students how to change the world and how to have compassion.
“The research is an essential way to get into character. By doing research on your country, committee, (and) the topics, you’re essentially acting. But this kind of acting is extraordinarily educational and eye opening,” she said.
To be considered for an award Andreolli had to write a position paper, or a short essay on a topic and her assigned country’s stance regarding that topic. Plus she had to write a bibliography.
Marlowe Evans also won an honourable mention for her committee work.