April 10, 2014

Cornell Model U.N. Conference Hosts Nearly 700 Students

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By SUSHMITHA KRISHNAMOORTHY

High school students from “around the nation and world” are participating in Cornell’s 12th annual Model United Nations Conference, where they have begun debating international issues.

The conference, which began Thursday, is being hosted by the Cornell International Affairs Society.

Gerritt Wissink ’14 said that the goal of the conference was to educate and empower young students by increasing their knowledge of international affairs and improving their critical thinking skills.

High school delegates in different committees such as the General Assembly or Crisis Committees are addressing current international crises, according to the conference website.

“[The students] are meant to come up with a resolution to whatever issue they are given, so they put all their ideas together to come up with creative solutions to problems that diplomats and politicians have not,” said Stacy Ndlovu ’16, a conference staff member.

According to Wissink, more than 100 Cornell students are working as staff members for the conference by encouraging debate.

“The role of the staff is to facilitate this enriching experience for the students by presenting them challenges and directing the flow of debate. Staff members must be the most knowledgeable persons on the topic the committee debates,” he said.

The conference has much to teach Cornell staff members and high school delegates about how to communicate effectively, according to Ndlovu.

“Cornell students develop soft skills like communication and how to interact with people of different backgrounds,” she said. “The delegates learn how to debate, communicate effectively and work together. They come up with creative solutions to problems that diplomats and politicians have not resolved.”

Conference staff are providing comprehensive evaluation and feedback to every delegate on their speaking and debate skills and general performance, according to Conna Walsh ’15, director general of the conference.

“I want all of our participating students to realize that Model UN is about more than debating international issues and writing resolutions — it’s also about believing in yourself and your abilities,” she said.

The delegates are attending admissions sessions and campus tours during the weekend and have the opportunity to interact with professors, who can “engage delegates in presentations of their committee-relevant research during the weekend’s sessions,” according to the conference website.

Because of this, Wissink said he believes the conference serves an additional role by advertising for the University.

“[The conference] may be the single largest P.R. event that Cornell puts on each year for potential students,” he said.

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