Recently, Darcy B., Jackie F., Becky S. and Alana T. from SYA Spain had the opportunity to participate in the Model United Nations (MUN) conference held in Bilbao where they took home the title of "Best Delegation." Alana T. who comes to SYA from Hunter College High School (NY) brought home the title of "Best Delegate."
Model UN and SYA
Students enrolled in the Global Citizenship in the 21st Century class at SYA Italy are given the opportunity to participate in European-based MUN conferences each year and SYA France students participate via a co-curricular club. Interest in the MUN has emerged at SYA Spain in the last couple of years and students' involvement in attending events is encouraged. "These students have moved it forward, have worked tremendously hard to get this done and did beautifully," said Virginia Invernizzi, Resident Director at SYA Spain. "Since we have many interested students, they've chosen two MUN conferences to attend. They chose a Bilbao conference and a conference in Athens which will happen later in March."
SYA Spain English teacher, Steve Taft, was able to assist the students on this recent trip and also worked with them to prepare for both conferences.
Opportunities to explore global citizenship
This opportunity gives students the chance to enhance a range of skills that go hand in hand with the experience and outcomes strived for at School Year Abroad. "The experience was incredible. I had never participated in Model UN before, but I picked it up pretty quickly and began proposing resolutions and making amendments in no time," said Jackie F., a junior who comes to SYA from State College Area High School (PA). "It was exhilarating, standing up there and improvising a speech. It really gave me a lot of confidence and helped improve my public speaking."
Not only do these opportunities help improve presentation skills, but strengthen other important skill sets such as research and analysis, debating and negotiation in groups, taking responsibility for finding solutions to the problems affecting the world, and interacting with students their age from across the globe.
"The model UN is a program I've always wanted to try, so when I had this opportunity to go to a conference in Bilbao I was ecstatic," said Darcy B., a junior who comes to SYA from Phillips Academy (MA). "By the second day, I had the hang of things and ended up participating almost too much. I faked confidence to the best of my ability until that confidence became genuine."
Diversity, Delegates and Domination
At these worldwide conferences students attend as delegates, representing members of the UN. During the conferences, the delegates sit on committees and discuss topics which are important to the UN at that time. Strict debating and voting rules are followed. The conference was filled with other motivated students representing 10 different countries. Students from SYA had the opportunity to sit on the following committees; World Health Committee, Sustainable Development Committee, Social, Cultural & Humanitarian Committee and the Human Rights Committee. SYA represented Somalia.
"My favorite part of the conference, by far, was meeting, interacting, and making friends with other delegates – people from all over the continent – and yes, the world if you include us! " said Alana, "I was so impressed by the instant camaraderie everyone had, even though we all came from different backgrounds and lives. Being at the conference reminded me of what it meant to be here with SYA in Spain, studying abroad: people-to-people diplomacy is the antidote to cure divisiveness, misconceptions, and stereotypes. I'm so lucky I got to participate in this conference and it made me realize how lucky I was given the opportunity while I'm attending SYA!"
SYA's mission is to "deepen cultural awareness and global understanding" and activities at each of our schools are designed to provide opportunities to explore these themes beyond the traditional classroom.
"On the last night we had a dinner within our committees, and at one point we counted how many languages we could speak within our group of six girls. The answer amazed me: English, Spanish, Basque, Dutch, Russian, Italian, German and French." Explained Darcy, "We all asked each other questions about where we come from as we compared our cultures. In that moment I felt an overwhelming gratitude for SYA allowing me to learn the world in such an intimate and personal way. Winning "Best Delegation" was just the icing on the cake!"
Becky S., who comes to SYA from The Winsor School (MA), mentioned that her favorite part of the conference was the closing ceremony for a very particular reason. "As the Secretary General officially closed the conference, "Imagine" by John Lennon played over the speakers. The whole General Assembly began to sing and each delegation waved the flags of their country. It was a really cool moment, one of unity after a fun but intense conference, and a moment of peace in the political craze of the past few weeks."