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Model UN program gives teens a chance to hone diplomacy, decision-making skills

On March 21, 530 students, staff, and professors met at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus for an annual event focused on global engagement.

The Model United Nations takes interested students on a journey of research, conflict resolution, debating, and public speaking.

The students’ willingness to practice diplomacy in preparation for future civic engagement and debating issues of international importance is an inspiration to observe.

Taking part in a miniature version of the world’s most prominent peacekeeping organization speaks volumes to the students’ strong character and global perspective.

"The moment you set foot on this campus, UB became a better place," said Dr. Trevor Poag, director of Global Learning Opportunities at UB. As he addressed the delegates from close to 50 high schools, he stressed that the UN needs more innovative problem-solving techniques. He suggested including everyday people in decision-making, because they are more effective at resolving their own conflicts as opposed to having others do it for them.

Schools from all over the region sent teams to the conference, including two Buffalo public schools – City Honors School and da Vinci High School.

The conference provided an exciting opportunity to meet new people.

"Model United Nations is beneficial for students because they gain an experience that transcends the classroom. There’s not enough of that in education today," said Sean Ross, supervisor of the City Honors Model UN team.

Students are also intent on participating in Model UN.

"It is important for young people to get involved and understand the complexities of international affairs in order to become a more informed citizen of the world," said Adam VanKerkhove, a junior at City Honors. The more young adults learn about the world, the more likely they will engage in global issues, he added.

UB was an ideal place to hold the conference, not only because its students were on spring break, but also because it’s a spacious and accommodating setting.

"We are genuinely thrilled that you have chosen UB as the site for this year’s Model UN activities," said Poag, before delegates split into committees.

Everyone feels important at the Model UN conference.

"I love how during the conference you are treated as if you are really in the UN and your opinion is taken very seriously," said Abdelaziz Hussein, another junior at City Honors. "It’s a welcoming environment that respects everyone’s unique perspective."

Students involved as delegates are closer to becoming global citizens and effective world leaders by the end of the conference.

"Students who are in Model United Nations receive a real-world understanding on how to solve problems on a global scale as well as making friends along the way. If given the chance, it’s a program that schools should participate in. I am a huge advocate of this program," said Ross, who is looking forward to next year’s conferences at Canisius College and again at UB.

Next year is another opportunity to become acquainted with more people as resolutions are made, amended and passed.

Naagy Omar is a junior at City Honors School.


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