Students play important roles in model UN conference

Yang Meiping
Shanghai event a valuable opportunity for young students to challenge themselves in public speaking, thoughtful debate, global perspectives and cross-cultural communication skills.
Yang Meiping
Students play important roles in model UN conference
Ti Gong

Students at the model United Nations conference

More than 200 students from 52 high schools across China gathered in Shanghai recently to attend a model United Nations conference.

Jointly organized by Shanghai Foreign Language School Affiliated to Shanghai International Studies University, the Model United Nations of the University of Chicago, and WELAND International, the conference was a valuable opportunity for young students to challenge themselves in public speaking, thoughtful debates, global perspectives and cross-cultural communication skills.

Model UN conferences are popular with young students around the world, in which they play the roles of diplomats from different countries to discuss, debate and vote to make decisions on global issues in various committees, as the real diplomats do in the UN and other international organizations. In the process, they learn how the international organizations operate, understand how the global issues will affect the world and themselves, and think about what kind of roles they can play in the future.

It was the sixth year the foreign language school had organized a model UN conference and it attracted floods of applications which exceeded the planned 350 seats. The organizing committee increased the limit to 400 and expanded six committees to seven to accommodate the extra students.

This year, students were divided into a simulated the United Nations Disarmament and International Security committee, United Nations Human Rights Council, United Nations Security Council, International Olympic Committee, World Health Organization, Committee on the Status of Women, and Organization of American States. They discussed issues such as weaponization of artificial intelligence, mental health in developing countries, protection of minority languages, public education for children, equal access to education, and the role of environmental governance in the age of climate change.

Students needed to carry out an in-depth survey before discussion and debate with others to work out a reasonable solution and draft a resolution.

Ke Tonglin, from Guangzhou Foreign Language School, represented France in the model UN Human Rights Council, and discussed on the topics of minority language protection and public education for children.

"I want to be a diplomat and I'm a member of the model UN club of my school. I came here to broaden my global vision and knowledge range, improve my English language skills and enrich my experience," she said.

"When acting as a representative of a country, talking on the global development pattern and proposing better development strategies to bring maximum benefits to mankind, I became more determined in my career option."

For Ng Kuan-hou, from Pui Ching Middle School in Macau, it was his first time in Shanghai and his first model UN Conference.

"It's my great honor to come with my seven schoolmates to participate in the event," he said. "It was my teacher who encouraged me to take part in it. But during the process, I became more and more interested in it. It helps cultivate our global mind and improve our skills in debating, negotiation and problem solving.

"I wish to study law in the future and such activities have helped me with rational thinking, data collection and analysis and taught me to analyze problems, debate and resolve disputes through negotiation under international and conference rules."

Ng represented Haiti at the simulated WHO conference to discuss the issue of mental health in developing countries.

"I think metal health is important to everyone. This is an urgent issue that deserves the attention of all countries," he said. "In this conference, I learned the situations of mental health in other developing countries and also found it was a challenge to our comprehensive ability.

"It requires more skills than in our school study, such as the ability to think about the problem from different perspectives, cross-cultural communication skills and coordination and collaboration skills. I also learned how difficult it is to find common interests from the interests of various parties and achieve a win-win and all-win solution. But I improved my skills of oral expression, negotiation and formal writing and learned what cannot be learned in classes. It's a rewarding trip."

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