Earlier this term, North Birmingham Academy students put their debating skills to the test for the academy’s first ever Model United Nations conference.
Read on to find out why Georgia Keloglou, organiser of the event and science teacher at NBA, believes experiences like these are so important to young people.
The Model United Nations conference is a whole world of its own. I was introduced to this world when I was 16 years old.
Attending a Greek public school, my access to opportunities like the Model United Nations (MUN) was limited. However after getting involved I ended up taking part in and eventually co-organising the conference for the next ten years.
Now a science teacher and Aimhigher coordinator at North Birmingham Academy, I am passionate about my students being given the same opportunity.
So what is MUN and what’s the hype about?
The MUN is a simulation of the United Nations. It allows pupils in secondary or higher education to experience how lobbying and decision-making take place in the UN.
The participants develop their research, organisational, leadership, communication and public-speaking skills while also learning to be diplomatic. These valuable skills also link with the requirements of the national curriculum.
The MUN is a prestigious world-wide conference that any school, college or university can organise. Having gained so much from the MUN when I was a student, I felt that NBA students would also benefit from taking part.
I wanted our students to experience the unique feelings that come with being part of the MUN: the feeling of belonging to a generation that is and should be part of the decision-making process and the feeling that each and every one of us is powerful enough to change the world.
NBA’s first ever MUN conference
I was delighted that our Headteacher, Philip Lloyd, was enthusiastic about the idea and gave us the chance to make it a reality. We also had fantastic support from staff, including the help of EAL coordinator Rebeca Velarde.
In preparation for our first ever MUN conference, students chose the country-member of the UN that they wanted to represent. They then researched particular problems that the world is facing and thought about possible solutions.
Over the course of the two day conference, we discussed various issues from child marriage and the disposal of radioactive waste to youth empowerment. The students painstakingly researched their topics, making sure to share the beliefs and motives of the country they were representing rather than their own. It definitely sounds easier than it is!
NBA’s first MUN couldn’t have gone any better. Our 50 delegates were organised, professional and respectful, passionately debating with one another about important topics that affect the world.
Year 12 students were also key in making the event a success, taking on the roles of chairs and board members. We experienced many proud moments watching Post 16 students acting as role models for our younger students as they managed and coordinated the lobbying process.
Thinking big at NBA
The MUN gives our students the opportunity to develop a range of academic and social skills. In holding a conference like this one, we are helping to prepare our students for the world beyond their academy.
It is so important that initiatives like the MUN continue nationally and internationally. These events can have such an impact on a student’s life, opening their eyes to career paths they may never have explored and giving them an understanding of the way the world works.
We would like to thank all of the students that stepped out of their comfort zone to undertake this challenge. We are already thinking big for next year’s MUN and we can’t wait to offer this opportunity to even more students at NBA.
If you’re interested in organising a Model United Nations conference for your academy or would like more information, please contact Georgia here.