Forty-seven students from Woodward's Upper School, Paideia School, and Alpharetta's Amana Academy gathered on Main Campus February 12 to participate in the first Woodward Academy Model United Nations conference. In Model UN, students act as delegates from different countries and role play their perspectives and national interests in United Nations committee sessions.
During the one-day conference, students debated the topic of "drafting international protocol regarding ageing population." Delegates considered the demographic factors in their respective countries that contribute to social, economic, and humanitarian challenges. The day started with the dynamic keynote address by Chris Young, executive director of CIFAL Atlanta, before students entered into debate.
Traditionally, high school Model UN debates are chaired by students from the college hosting the conference. Because we were a high school hosting a high school conference, we had to improvise. Woodward's debate chairpersons were Juni Lie, a freshman at Agnes Scott College, and Ben Shivers, Woodward Upper School German teacher and Model UN advisor. As an international student from Norway, Juni has experience chairing conferences in Europe, but this was her first in the United States. Mr. Shivers chaired several Model UN conferences while attending Wheaton College in Illinois.
Although students missed classes on Friday to participate in debate, a Model UN conference is far from a "day off." A few weeks before the conference, Woodward senior Vinay Nandanampati wrote an extensive background guide for the delegates to use while they prepared their research. The rest of the delegates were responsible for writing position papers in preparation for the conference. Position papers include a country's background on the given topic, as well as past actions they have taken to address the problem. Students then demonstrate their insight and understanding of the topic as they present creative solutions in the second half of the paper. These ideas are what always set apart the strongest delegates from the rest of the committee members.
One of the best features of the Model UN experience is that it combines collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation with a small amount of competition. We recognized four students for their outstanding work at our conference: Woodward student Yujin Choi, who won honorable mention representing the United Kingdom; Woodward student Kali Luthra, who won outstanding delegate (and got to take home the gavel) representing Germany; Paideia student Lincoln Sorscher, best position paper, representing Afghanistan; and Amana student Tasneem Wahid, honorable mention, representing Jordan. Congratulations to all students on a wonderful day and for a fantastic debate.
Lori Beth Wiseman is chair of the Spanish Department in Woodward Academy's Upper School. She and her fellow Model UN advisors and colleagues in the Upper School World Languages Department, Ben Shivers and Nicole Morando, planned the Model UN conference together.
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