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Model UN generating international mindedness

Written on November 20th, 2012

MUN2FSNuclear weapons in Iran, civil unrest in Syria, tensions in the East China Sea and global food security: these were some of the topics Kings Christian Collegiate students went prepared to debate at two United Nations conferences recently.

Talk about generating international mindedness.

It’s an absolute passion of teacher Peter Oussoren’s, who provides the opportunity for students to be involved in the global initiative called Model United Nations (MUN).

To participate in MUN, student familiarize themselves with global issues, research a country’s position on those issues and then bring that viewpoint to a model UN session where they engage in debate to reach a resolution.

Oussoren has been getting quite the uptake with the extra-curricular program since he introduced it at Kings last year.

What’s particularly exciting is seeing students grow through their involvement, Oussoren says, noting he saw this especially clearly with one student who is now a top delegate, though when he first joined he gave the impression he didn’t want to be there.

At a spring MUN conference the student “absolutely shone,” says Oussoren, adding he walked away with a best delegate award.

Oussoren notes he likes the initiative because students learn skills such as debating with the intention of reaching a resolution.

Students also have to represent a country’s viewpoint, rather than just their own, as well as learn UN protocols for debate. The latter can be valuable though often the most difficult part of the whole learning experience.

“In my view, there is no better way for students to become knowledgeable about world issues than in these simulations,” says Oussoren.

“It promotes student interest in international relations and related subjects, increases the capacity for students to engage in problem solving, teaches aspects of conflict resolution, research skills, and communication skills, and creates the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

“For a teacher interested in developing international mindedness in students, MUN should be on the list of extra-curricular activities a school can offer.”

Recently, King’s MUN team sent two delegations to two different MUN conferences. Fifteen students attended the annual MUN conference at Upper Canada College in Toronto, and three attended Kings’ first overseas conference in Panama City. The latter event saw students attend from many nations in the Americas, including Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Curacoa, Colombia, the U.S. and Panama.

The Kings’ team plans to attend four MUN conferences this year.

A long-range goal is to join the MUN conference in The Hague, which is the largest of the MUN events, convening more than 2,000 students, and including an opportunity to visit the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice.

The Kings MUN team will be attending the Feb. 7-9 conference at the University of Toronto.

Feel free to contact Oussoren directly for more information by e-mailing ouss(at)hotmail.com, or visit www.mun.org.