Five MUHS students represent nations at Dartmouth
MIDDLEBURY — Five students from Middlebury Union High School traveled to Dartmouth College April 5 through 7 to participate in the Dartmouth Model United Nations Conference. This year the conference brought together 480 high school students, from 30 public and private schools throughout the Northeast —Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey — for three days of debate in 13 different committees.
Wren Colwell, a junior at Middlebury Union High School, won a Verbal Commendation for her skill in taking the role of Japan in a historical re-enactment of the League of Nations. In 1931, Japanese troops had invaded Manchuria, a part of China, and China appealed to the League of Nations for help. The League of Nations failed to stop Japan. Many consider the failure as the first step toward the challenge to international peace by the Axis powers (Germany, Japan, Italy) that led to World War II.
At the conference at Dartmouth, however, the League of Nations committee members managed to work out an agreement which satisfied all sides enough that Japan decided to stay in the League of Nations and keep on participating rather than withdrawing, which is what happened in real life. Colwell’s award recognized that she kept to Japan’s broad policies and interests, and knew the history and facts, while also working to consider the positions and needs of the other nations and colonies involved.
In addition to Colwell’s participation in the League of Nations Historical Committee, Grace Tucker represented the U.S. in the SOCHUM (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) committee, which discussed environmental refugees. Kyle Mitchell took the role of Jamaica in the Organization of American States dealing with the Venezuelan crisis, Grace Vining took the position of Iran in a Special Political committee dealing with the situation in Yemen, and Alice Ganey represented China in the U.N. Human Rights Committee looking at the situation of the Rohinga Muslim minority in Myanmar.
The goal of Model United Nations is to give students the opportunity to discuss world issues from many different viewpoints, to develop negotiating and debating skills as they work together to come up with realistic solutions, and to have fun meeting new and challenging peers.
Model UN experience prepares students to explain their views, listen to others’ concerns, and work together to make good decisions. Students are thus empowered to bring their voices more effectively into whatever situations they encounter throughout their lives.
Students learn what they can in advance of a conference, then do their best to advocate for their country while working with the others. The larger idea is to emphasize that political decisions, no matter how consequential, are made by people, fallible humans, and that events can unfold different ways depending on the actions of the people involved.
Model United Nations at MUHS also runs their own one-day conference for Vermont schools each fall. Faculty Advisors are Ariell Slater and Carolyn Schmidt.
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