Debates and Drama at Model UN Conference


During closing ceremonies students are awarded gavels and novels in the place of trophies for their achievements at the SSUNS conference.

Shaker’s trip to Montreal for a Model UN conference was typical.

Shaker students debated global issues. They won awards.

They witnessed a simulated assassination attempt.

Approximately 40 Shaker students participated in the Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium in Montreal Nov. 6-9.

Junior Anav Sood and seniors Jordan Brett, Julian DeGeorgia and William Goodall earned awards at the conference.

“It’s cool meeting people from all over interested in solving global issues,” Brett said, the first place winner for peacemaking in his committee.

“I won an award for advocacy,” said Sood. “Instead of giving a medal or trophy for the top awards, they gave out gavels.”

SSUNS was created based on the United Nations, an organization founded to improve international relations. SSUNS was first held in 1993 and has become the largest Model UN conference in Canada. It had more than 1,000 participants this year. During SSUNS, high school students propose and discuss solutions to global problems.

“I was amazed at how well put together [the conference] was and how much work all our kids put into this,” high school accounting specialist Marian Steenbergh, an escort on the trip, said.

Throughout the conference, students met in groups called committees. Certain committees simulate crisis situations.

“I was going into one of the sessions to observe,” said Steenbergh. “The people who were running [the session] were staging an assassination attempt on one of the delegates.”

“We were interrogating a possible spy, and someone came in with a toy gun, grabbed her and took her outside,” Sood said.

When the students are not honing their survival skills, they debate issues as delegates representing a country or a character.

“Preparation pretty much consists of previous knowledge of the topic,” said Sood. “And all of the previous experience you’ve had had with public speaking, leading and plain socializing.”

The group is now preparing for its next conference, the Washington Area Model United Nations Conference in March.

“One of my goals as president is to have all our members comfortable speaking publicly, which is one of the skills that Model UN facilitates,” senior Lea Kayali said. “We do this by holding simulations of committee at school, pairing up more experienced members with new members.”

Kayali believes the group can repeat its success in spring.

“I’m incredibly proud of the whole group,” said Kayali. “They never cease to impress me. I can’t wait to see where we go as a club in the future.”

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