About 50 Jesuit students will make the trip down to Eugene for the statewide Model United Nations conference in April. There, these students will meet with about 1,500 other high schoolers from around Oregon to discuss and debate world issues.
Members of the Jesuit Model United Nations Club, beginning in September, meet weekly to prepare for the three-day conference. The meetings are mostly intended to familiarize students with global issues and participation in a simulation of the United Nations.
“During our club meetings, we explore current events that have a global impact and we try to challenge the students to think and discuss the issue from different countries who may have opposing views and then work together to come up with a resolution,” junior club leader Britney He said. “At the conference all of this really comes together and the students gain an insight on how the world works and cooperates in the real UN.”
Students are assigned a committee for the conference, in topics ranging from Health and Human Services to Global Economics. They are also assigned a country to represent. This year, Jesuit students will be representing three countries: Ukraine, Italy and Ethiopia.
“Students from schools all over Oregon will represent different nations that are part of the United Nations,” junior club leader Claire Devine said. “They debate their issues, representing their certain countries. They can’t come at it from their own opinion; they have to come at it from what they think their nation would actually talk about in the UN.”
During the year students prep for the conference by practicing substantive debate, the debate style used at the conference, and writing resolutions, which are crafted as collaborative solutions to common debate topics and issues. Passing a resolution is the main goal for these delegates at the conference.
“[At the conference] they come together and they write resolutions for their certain committees and then they bring it to the General Assembly committee,” Devine said. “The General Assembly will either pass the resolution or bring it back to the committee to revise.”
Devine was elected last year at the 2016 conference to the Secretariat. As an Undersecretary, Devine has worked all year to organize the conference and make sure everything runs smoothly.
While the conference is the main event for club members, attending the conference involves almost an entire school year of preparation and practice. Students can gain lifelong skills both before and during the conference.
“One of my favorite things is seeing young people who are genuinely curious about trying to understand the complexity of the world,” MUN moderator Mark Flamoe said. “I admire students who are that age who really are willing to put in the work to understand what are pretty esoteric issues, sometimes.”
The conference may additionally involve quite a bit of public speaking, as delegates are expected to contribute to discussion in front of a committee of up to 60 or 70 people they may have never met before.
“A lot of these kids, when they go to the conference, are expected to make a proposal and get up and defend that in front of a group,” Mr. Flamoe said. “I know for a lot of kids, that’s a scary thing to do, [but] kids step up and do that.”
This year’s conference brings a lot of exciting changes. The conference will be held from April 13th-15th at the newly constructed Erb Memorial Union on the University of Oregon campus.
“The past two years, the conference has been held at the Hilton, but this year it’s back at the University of Oregon,” He said. “We also have a chance to bid for a Big Five Country this year.”
The Big Five consist of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia, all of which can have a big impact in committees. Jesuit represented the United States at the 2016 conference, having been selected at the 2015 bid.
The Oregon MUN conference allows for fun, too. Delegates can go out to meals on their own and can participate in talent shows or game nights during the evenings.
“MUN is fun because you get two days off of school to spend with your friends and you get the chance to meet and work with a bunch of other kids from high schools all over Oregon,” He said. “I also can’t wait to walk the streets of Eugene with my friends and eat all the delicious food.”