Between Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November, 10 Huili pupils from grade 6 visited Shanghai American School Pudong to take part in a model UN conference event which involved over 400 pupils drawn together from schools mostly in Shanghai, but also from Beijing and Myanmar. This was the pupils’ first time participating in a model UN and it was a highly challenging event, given that 75% of the participants were native English speakers and 85% were of secondary school age. This meant that our grade 6 pupils were debating and holding their intellectual ground with pupils significantly older than them and they rose to the challenge admirably.
Upon arrival, the pupils each assumed the role of an individual delegate and were split up into different committees, representing Brazil, Romania and Azerbaijan between them. Each assembly had three topics to debate, covering all manner of world changing policies, trends and crises. From free trade economic policies, to espionage, human trafficking and the use of biological and chemical weapons, there were plenty of weighty issues for our pupils to get stuck into. After the opening ceremony where keynote speakers – including the Canadian Consulate’s General Councillor – outlined to the children the vital nature of diplomacy and resolution of issues through debate, it was time for the pupils to experience those lessons first-hand. Each pupil chose which topics they wanted to work on, before giving position speeches which were limited to one minute. This helped them understand the importance of delivering their message clearly, convincingly and in a timely manner. They then worked with pupils from other schools on drafting resolution proposals regarding the issues they had chosen to address. This was a valuable experience demonstrating the importance of coming together with people of different backgrounds and perspectives to find the best workable solution.
Once the resolutions were presented, the pupils could then argue for or against them, according to their country’s viewpoint. Additionally, they were permitted to raise requests for more information, and even ask other delegates to amend their proposals. This part of the process was designed to encourage our pupils to inform their opinions with reliable data and also to recognise the value of compromise.
All of a sudden, once the resolutions were formed, refined, presented and debated, it was time to vote. Much like the real UN, rules of order and formalities were strictly enforced, showing the pupils that due respect should be given to important democratic processes, and that they should respect the power of expressing oneself politically by voting. The votes were counted and the delegates were informed whether their resolutions had passed or not, showing our pupils a small slice of democracy in action. At every stage of the conference, our team of pupils took on the challenges involved with energy and enthusiasm, absorbing the key lessons while enjoying the chance to explore a novel learning environment with real-life applications.
“I gave a speech supporting free trade. I wanted to argue that free trade benefits every country in the world and I think it went very well. I liked getting to understand the debating process and being part of the forming of resolutions.” – Peter “I really enjoyed listening to the speeches and learning about the UN processes. It made me want to make changes in the real world.” – Emma “It was great to learn so much about so many countries – their economies, GDP and trade priorities and so on. I liked how realistic everything was.” – Anna “I got to find out more about human rights and think about people with disabilities and how to help them with better employment opportunities. This got me thinking about how we can all do our part to help different kinds of people across the world.” – Benjamin “I really enjoyed the voting part. You can express your opinion and think very carefully about how to use that power wisely by thinking about what other countries need and want.” – Brian We are extremely proud of our grade 6 team for their impressive performance during their very first model UN conference, and hope to see more Huili pupils going to similar events in the near future.