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Developing a Global Perspective at the Model UN

BVT students visited the Sterling Library at Yale University. The library visit was part of their tour of the New Haven campus during the recent Model UN. Pictured from left to right are: Adriana Salvas, Joshua Luttrell, Michael DeFazio, Sami Kafal, Logan Philbrick, Molly Fritchey, Stephen Poirier and Andrew Belanger. Contributed photo

Students of Blackstone Valley Technical High School recently attended Yale University's 39th Annual Model United National Conference (YMUN) in New Haven, Conn. The Model United Nations is a worldwide organization that emulates the United Nations and allows high school and college level students from around the globe to have first-hand experience participating in international diplomacy and conflict resolution.

Model UN delegates participate in a variety of General Assembly Committees such as the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). General Assembly committees discussed issues such as the effects of chronic disease and mental health in the Gaza strip, concerns with global climate change, and the European economic crisis. Within these committees, every school is assigned a country to represent. This year BVT delegates in the General Assembly represented New Zealand. In preparation for the sessions, each student diligently researches their assigned country as well as the topics that the committee will discuss. In session, each nation voices its expertise on the situation and discusses possible solutions for the given issue. Ultimately, the committee must work together, just like the real United Nations, to draft resolutions and vote in order to determine the most advantageous solution.

Seniors Andrew Belanger and Adriana Salvas were able to participate in the United Nation's specialized committees where they acted as delegates for the African nation of Liberia. Andrew was part of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which discussed child armies and the economy in the Middle East and he co-authored three resolutions for these issues. For the issue of child soldiers, for example, the committee suggested that the UN make educational programs more accessible and create harsher penalties for human rights violations. In terms of the economy in the Middle East, Andrew used his own personal experience as a BVT student as an idea for a possible solution—promoting vocational schools in Europe as a means to develop the economy. Andrew and the UNDP also had the opportunity to meet the UNDP Assistant Secretary General, Jordan Ryan.

Adriana participated in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). One of the topics discussed was the global issue of human trafficking. "The resolutions passed were designed to encourage a country's government to be more actively involved in implementing our resolutions," said Adriana. She added one resolution the UN committee suggested was to "allow women and children to remain the country they fled to on a temporary visa. If the children cannot be returned to their family for whatever reason, legal adoption will be allowed."

During their trip to Yale, students were exposed to more than just international diplomacy. Students also had the opportunity to experience a weekend in the life of an Ivy League college student. BVT students explored the campus, sat in on a seminar by an expert lecturer discussing Hume's skepticism and toured the Yale Art Gallery.

Model United Nations has given BVT students the opportunity to consider and discuss various issues from diverse perspectives. Learning to engage in these multifaceted issues with such a global lens is a 21st century skill that will be valuable. The Model UN has allowed BVT students a great opportunity to practice and refine these skills.


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