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VIDEO: Thomas Haney Secondary to host Model United Nations conference in Maple Ridge

Conference to take place April 27 and 28

High school students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will gain experience of what it is like to be on the world stage at an upcoming Model United Nations at Thomas Haney Secondary School.

Student delegates will represent different countries in two committees – the Historical Crisis Committee and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. And within each committee they will be debating two different topics: the Onin war that lasted from 1467 to 1477 during the Muromachi period in Japan; and the exploitation of the Arctic.

Delegates will reenact a series of events of what led up to a certain point in history. Research is done ahead of time and background guides are handed out to participating students on the topic, with a timeline of historical events. Then delegates will debate and determine an outcome, which may differ from fact.

For example, the outcome of the Onin War, explained Annie Di Giovanni, Thomas Haney Organized Model United Nations, THORMUN, secretary general, may not be concluded the same way at the Model United Nations as it was in history.

This is the very first conference for THORMUN, noted Di Giovanni, who along with director general Daniel Sul, and chief of staff Eric Wang, are hoping it will become an annual event and attract more schools and interest from local students. It is open to students from Grade 8 to 12.

The great thing about the Thomas Haney conference, explained Di Giovanni, is that it is affordable and accessible to most students, unlike other conferences held at larger high schools in Vancouver, where they cost about $200 to take part for each delegate and then you have to stay overnight.

Sul also noted that cost is a barrier between local students and a fantastic opportunity.

“The unfortunate thing about smaller districts and smaller schools away from Vancouver, is they are more disconnected from some of the opportunities that bigger Vancouver schools have,” noted Sul, a Grade 12 students at Thomas Haney, adding that this conference will lay the foundation for interest in the Model United Nations locally, which will, in turn, lead to more students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows taking part in the large conferences in Vancouver.

Di Giovanni founded THORMUN with Emmy Wang in 2022 as a Capstone assignment. Now in her first year at the University of British Columbia, Di Giovanni returns regularly to Thomas Haney to help with the club.

Currently the secretary team is only made up of the three of them from THSS. Sul has been to 10 different conferences, Wang to three or four, and Di Giovanni has delegated two conferences and staffed at five. But, in the future they want to expand the size of the team and have students from other schools to boost the team’s diversity, explained Grade 12 student Wang.

Different perspectives can vary between what school a student is from and how old they are. That’s why they have two different committees at this conference, said Sul.

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“To garner from each individual’s interests and their experience,” he said.

This conference they will have students from Garibaldi Secondary, Maple Ridge Secondary, Westview Secondary, and Meadowridge School participating.

Di Giovanni, Sul, and Wang are hoping to have between 40 to 70 delegates attend this event. In the future they also would like to see all SD42 secondary schools involved, in addition to schools outside the district from Coquitlam, Langley, and Mission.

The Thomas Haney Organized Model United Nations conference takes place Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28 at Thomas Haney Secondary, 23000 116 Ave., Maple Ridge.

City of Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy will be the keynote speaker.

Day one will begin with registration at 9 a.m, followed by speeches, followed by committee sessions. The day will run until about 9 p.m. with many breaks and will also include a social dinner event with board games and karaoke.

“Just a way for the delegates to connect with each other,” said Sul.

Day two will start at about 10 a.m. and run until about 7 p.m.

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To participate delegates must give their sponsor teacher $35. Money will go towards materials and supplies for the conference, the social dinner, future THORMUN conferences, and a donation to a charity.

For Di Giovanni, Sul, and Wang there is a lot of fun to be had at a Model United Nations conference.

Sul first joined to figure out whether he enjoyed debating, talking about politics, and researching world history. He learned a lot about politics, for sure, he said. But, most importantly, he expanded his connections with students with similar interests from different schools and even different countries as he now has a good friend who lives in Jamaica. He said this conference will be a great opportunity to learn what the Model United Nations is all about because it won’t be as “hard-core or serious” like some of the bigger conferences can be.

Students will also learn how to push themselves to their limits, said Wang, it will challenge their confidence.

“We really want people to try something they have never tried before,” he said.

Thomas Haney Organized Model United Nations, THORMUN, director general Daniel Sul, left, secretary general Annie Di Giovanni, center, and chief of staff Eric Wang, say this is the very first conference for the Thomas Haney group, and they are hoping it will become an annual event and attract more schools and interest from local students. It is open to students from Grade 8 to 12. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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