Do you believe sanctions can convince Russia to change its position on the Baltics? Would you know what the United States’ 1983 position was on the civil war in Lebanon?
Global political issues such as these take center stage when Homewood-Flossmoor High School students become international representatives at Model United Nations programs.
During the most recent four-day Chicago International Model United Nations meeting in December, H-F students represented the United States on several committees, as well as an historical simulation set in 1983. In addition, junior Michael Ruiz took on the Presidential Cabinet role of United States Secretary of State John Kerry.
“It was different from the typical Model UN experience,” said David Kush, chair of the Assessments Department who serves as the faculty sponsor for H-F’s Model UN Club. “Generally, if you’re placed in a developing country you’re trying to get attention, but our delegates talked about how different the experience was because everybody was talking to them (as U.S. representatives).”
Model UN gets students interested in international affairs through participation in fully integrated crisis simulations, that although fictitious require students to know national and international policies. The student delegates think on their feet and work as a team to solve major issues. H-F students had about six weeks to prepare for their roles in this UN simulation.
Ruiz left such a positive impression as John Kerry that he walked away with the Outstanding Delegate award at the end of the meeting. He spent a considerable amount of time researching Kerry “to know exactly what he does and what positions I was trying to jockey for.”
Ruiz found himself negotiating on the possible annexation by Russia of a former Baltic nation, the likelihood of war games between China and India in the South China Sea, and major efforts to keep U.S. allies in line with U.S. positions.
The job, even at the simulation level, is stressful. “After four days, I was done,” Ruiz said emphatically.
Delegate Maggie Colton served on the Historical Security Council of 1983, a time of major Cold War maneuvers. Her work on the committee won her an Honorable Mention award. She wrote a white paper for the committee, as well as a black paper for moderators, and then acted as the U.S. representative during the council’s examination of the Lebanon Civil War and the First Persian Gulf War.
Other H-F participants and their committee assignments were: Kenneth Dames and Michael Gavin, General Assembly; Justin Strong, Security Council; Michael Havighorst and Josiah McFadden, Economic and Social Council; Kyle Hinton, Organization of American States; Ryan Bergal and Michael Colton, Historical General Assembly; Mae Carroll, NATO 1983; Jessica Barry and Hannah Levy, International Atomic Energy Agency 1983.
H-F’s Model UN Club has been active for about 10 years, according to faculty sponsor Kush who participated in Model UN as a student at Governors State University. He finds that once students get involved, they tend to stay involved in the club. The meetings throughout the school year give students a chance to act as representatives of various countries, so they are always aware of new issues and learning to strategizing positions.
Kush said H-F next will be represented at a Model UN program at a regional high school in February. The next big meet will be a Model UN simulation at Northwestern University in April.
Each event has an entrance fee and putting students up at a hotel is another expense for the program. Kush said the H-F Foundation has been generous in its support for the program helping to underwrite a portion of the costs.
Contact Marilyn Thomas at [email protected]