A delegation of St Leonards students travelled to George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, for a weekend trip to the Model United Nations conference - they were assigned the delegation of Somalia. Members of each delegation were divided into separate committees for debate: Health, Political, Human Rights, Disarmament, Environment, and Media. These topics proved to be very interesting to debate from a Somalian perspective, as it is so different from the UK!
The weekend kicked off with a fascinating talk from the Principal Officer at the US Consulate, Ms. Zoja D. Bazarnic. In her speech, she strove to encourage the audience to show their conflicting opinions through a series of simple questions. She provided an interesting perspective of her experience in working in international relations, and was open to taking questions from the audience.
Also on Saturday was a lecture from Dr Sarah Kyambi, research fellow at the School for Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. Kyambi spoke of the difficulties surrounding the classification and the aiding of trafficked individuals, which was essential for enhancing debate. Follow-up questions from several astute members of the audience proved a challenge for Kyambi to answer, and was a measure of the true caliber of the participants at the conference. Other talks included a lecture from Prof David Paterson concerning Marine Welfare for those in the Environment committee, a lecture from Dr Valentina Feklyunina about the Ukranian crisis for those in the Political committee, and finally a lecture from Chris Cooke for the Media committee concerning the impact of social media on the news industry.
On Saturday evening was the revered MUN social. The delegates had the option of attending either a ceilidh or a disco, both of which were a brilliant success.
A General Assembly was scheduled for Sunday, which meant every delegation of the committees were to meet to discuss “How successful was the UN in meeting their Millennium Development Goals for 2015”. In the Assembly, Jack Boag raised several controversial points that warranted an excited reaction from the audience, with cheers being heard from all across the hall. After a break, an “emergency” debate was in session: Bahrain was in the midst of a coup, and so the UN needed to announce its position. The St Leonards students representing Somalia formed (and severed) alliances with countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Egypt and Columbia amongst others.
Over 600 pupils from across the globe attended the conference. St Leonards participant Sophie Galloway said, ‘overall, it was a fantastic experience, one that if it were not my final year at St Leonards, I would repeat time over. It was lovely to reconvene with friends whom I had met at last year’s conference, and to form new friendships with delegates from all over the world. Participating in Model United Nations not only enhances organization and oratory skills, but also increases confidence, and is something I would encourage as many St Leonards pupils as possible to get involved with.’