April 14, 2010

Cornell Hosts Eighth Annual High School Model U.N. Conference

Print More

Approximately 500 high school students from 27 states and countries including India, South Africa, China and Nigeria, will arrive on campus Thursday to participate in the Cornell International Affairs Society’s eighth annual Cornell Model United Nations Conference. Until Apr. 18, the conference attendees will explore the University as they gather to discuss the most relevant topics in the field of international relations.

According to a University press release, throughout the event “participating students will engage in stimulating discussions on international policy and learn to create solutions for global concerns by taking part in the model General Assembly and other United Nations committee structures.”

This year’s conference consists of 16 committees, through which delegates will “walk away with knowledge of the cultural, political and economic challenges that hinder cooperation in tacking issues of international importance,” according to Brian Cannon ’10, secretary general of the conference.

Cannon said that delegates will participate in discussions about “very interesting topics such as sea piracy and cyber warfare in the Legal committee of the General Assembly, sexual conflict and gender-based violence in the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in a historical simulation of the U.N. Security Council.”

However, CMUNC 2010 does more than introduces participating students to the world of the United Nations. According to its organizers, the conference also wants to present delegates with the wide array of resources available at the University.

“I have worked closely with my staff to integrate many of the University’s resources to make this year’s conference as rich an experience as possible for the students that travel far and wide to participate in CMUNC,” Cannon said.

In addition to competing, students will have the opportunity to meet faculty members and attending University information sessions.

According to Cannon, since the conference is hosted in campus facilities, they have been able to link “professorial research to particular committee topics.”

The director of public relations for the conference, Ravdeep Jaidka ’11, said that they have contacted faculty members — working in areas related to committee topics — to present their research to the delegates. Prof. John Weiss, history, prof. Ravi Kanbur, applied economics and management, and prof. Muna Ndulo, law, who helped draft Zimbabwe’s new constitution, are some of the faculty members who will participate.

For Cannon, this interaction with faculty members will provide students with an “eye-opening look at the link between the current, probing research of our esteemed University and its application to real-world international issues.”

Students will also have the opportunity of participating in debate workshops as well as in a college-life panel, in which the conference’s organizers will answer questions about college life in general.

At the end of the conference, participants will receive evaluation sheets with comments and suggestions from the conference’s staff on their performance. Jaidka said that through this interaction, CMUNC “prides itself on being a learning conference” and “endeavors to create an environment of passionate, intellectual debate and eye-opening dialogue on pertinent international issues.”

Fiona Ismail ’13, chair of one of the committees, said that “students can expect a weekend of excitement, surprises and fun” even outside of the debate. For her, this kind of experience is very important, since it helps high school students to broaden their academic horizons and meet college students who share their same intellectual passions.

On Saturday night, delegates will be given a chance to  interact in a more informal setting through a dance held in the atrium of Duffield Hall.

Yvonne Acosta, chief of education outreach of the U.N. Department of Public Information, will give the keynote address during the conference’s opening ceremonies Thursday afternoon.

Original Author: Patricio Martinez