High school students debate world issues at Model United Nations conference

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A Model United Nations conference for high school students in Pan-Yangtze River Delta was held at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University last week.

Organised by the XJTLU Model United Nations organising committee, made up of current XJTLU students, the conference attracted 212 representatives from 16 high schools across the region to discuss a series of issues related to world-wide concerns.

Model United Nations, which originated in the United States, is an academic simulation of the United Nations in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations. At MUN, students take on the roles of foreign diplomats and participate in a simulated session of an intergovernmental organisation.

Students playing the part of chairs of the League of Arab States Council, the European Union Council and the Arctic Council delivered keynote speeches focused on four issues, including the protection responsibilities of Middle Eastern governments and states, European anti-terrorism policies and refugee resettlement, Arctic environmental protection, development and cooperation, and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Leslie Sturino (pictured below), director of University Marketing and Communication and a professor of practice at International Business School Suzhou at XJTLU, said: “The MUN conference offers students the chance to adopt different viewpoints from around the world and to focus on potential solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems.

“Through MUN, they learn that they have the power to make a positive difference in the world.”

Zixi Li, a Year Two student at XJTLU studying BSc Financial Mathematics and secretary general of XJTLU MUN, said: “It was the first time most of the participants had attended this activity and although they still had room to improve, they worked very hard to prepare speeches and statements.”

It’s the fifth year that Zixi has participated in MUN activity and she believes that participants gain independent thinking skills, broaden their horizons and develop their sense of responsibility to the world.

“For example, when discussing the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons the aim is not for these high school students to propose plans for solving this problem, instead MUN asks participants to explore the social problems and reasons behind the issue,” she added.

The XJTLU MUN organising committee started to prepare for the conference in the summer and the four issues that were discussed at the conference were selected from 50 proposed topics.

“We spent lots of time writing background material to the four issues, which helped the delegates better understand the topics and make better statements during the conference,” Zixi said.

Leslie added: “The global outlook of XJTLU’s students was certainly on full display as they organised this important international event and helped lead the discussions. I hope that some of the visiting high school delegates who are considering an international university will apply to XJTLU.”

Xinyu Wu, a Year One student from Soochow Academy of Jiangsu Province, represented the Arctic Council and said that it was her first time attending a MUN conference. She added that by attending she had gained a better understanding of how the United Nation works.

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