Many people might consider a trip to New York City to be an experience in and of itself, yet for students involved in the Model UN club at Eden Junior/Senior High School, the Big Apple backdrop is only part of the experience awaiting them at the four-day Nationals competition in New York City.
The Eden Model UN club is sending 22 members to New York where, as a team that strives to duplicate the diplomacy of the United Nations, they will participate in the ultimate competition -- a competition held within the actual United Nations building.
Adviser Linda Bowman-Jones says the club has attended many competitions in recent years including WorldConnect Competitions at the University at Buffalo, Canisius College and D'Youville College, competitions at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., Yale and Cornell. But members agree that the Nationals competition in New York will be unlike any they've attended in the past "because it is the largest competition we've ever attended and the delegates will be better prepared," says Alexandra O'Brien, club treasurer.
Team President Tom Hudson looks forward to competing with "people not only from across the nation, but from 12 other nations as well."
Club secretary Virginia Partridge notes that the team on Thursday will "meet with the actual United Nations delegates from our country, Turkey, and have the opportunity to learn their language and eat their food."
In adopting the role of Turkey for the Nationals, the Eden team spent countless hours researching the Turkish nation -- learning about its history, culture, political atmosphere, and both internal and external conflicts. Members also had to research an issue of global significance, such as the rights of women and repayment of debts, in order to determine and accurately convey Turkey's sentiment on the issue when placed into 15 UN Committees at the competition.
Team vice president Nancy Wallmeyer feels that Eden will not only be representing the Turkish nation at the competition, but the entire Western New York region. "Eden will be the only Western New York school participating in the competition, putting a lot of weight on our shoulders to perform well," she said.
How well the team succeeds in portraying the sentiments of this strategically located nation remains to be seen. Virginia says team members through their extensive research have "learned more about Turkey as a modern country, as well as the problems they have internationally and the issues they are facing within their own borders."
Although the Nationals competition in New York City is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year for Eden Model UN members, officers say involvement in the club offers many other benfits as well.
"Students gain knowledge of cultures, customs, policies, and peoples from all over the world," says Tom. Alexandra says the Model UN experience helps "students become aware of problems worldwide, and attempt to discover ways to fix them." Nancy adds that "students also learn the importance and technique of diplomatic actions and speech while working towards these solutions."
The benefits of Model UN are achieved only through a great deal of hard work and commitment on the part of club members.
As Alexandra says: "Model UN is different from other clubs, because it requires participation and entails mandatory research and knowledge about other countries."
Virginia adds, "Members need to be open-minded to other ways of thinking, as well as the ability to work hard, and a willingness to learn about other nations."
"We have to keep up with world news. We really have to keep on our toes," says Tom.
Adviser Linda Bowman Jones feels Model UN gives students "a greater appreciation of other people and cultures. Although most individuals are aware that people all have the same basic needs, not all of them appreciate how each culture holds a unique viewpoint of life, as well as of problems and solutions." It is through cultivating this appreciation and, "through developing a mutual understanding and respect between Eden students and those students from other countries, that we may be better able to solve problems and move the world closer to peace."
Kathryn Brown is a freshman at Fredonia State College.
Official language: Turkish
Population: 69.7 million in 2005
Location: Southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Turkey is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Politics: Turkey is an associate member of the European Union and seeking to become a full member.
MORE MODEL UN:
*Kenmore East High School scored its fourth first-place finish in five years in the 2006 Model United Nations General Assembly last week at UB, representing Portugal. It won "best delegation overall" in the event organized by Buffalo/Niagara WorldConnect. East Aurora, as Venezuela, placed second, and St. Joe's Collegiate, as the United States, was third.
*Best resolution award went to Newfane High School (as Uzbekistan) for a resolution on anti-personnel landmine use.