Global Learning

Students Process Global Issues at Pacific Model United Nations Conference

This year, 10 student members of the Northwest School Model U.N. Interest Group participated in the Pacific Model United Nations (PACMUN) Conference at the Westin Hotel, in downtown Seattle, on Nov. 17-19. PACMUN is entirely student-run and is the largest Model U.N. conferences for high school students in the state.

Model U.N. students were fully immersed in the conference for the entire weekend. They were assigned a country's delegate in the general assembly or committee of the United Nations, or a United States senator. They spent a weekend simulating their assigned committee, working through issues and proposing resolutions to solve global issues. At midnight, on Sunday, Nov. 19, the students worked through an emergency crisis simulation. Past crises have centered around rogue nations and disease outbreaks.

This is the second time junior Tony W., who is an international student from China, participated in the PACMUN Conference. This year, he was assigned Senator Dan Sullivan, from Alaska, and the Senate focused on health care and criminal justice reform resolutions.

Says Tony: "I enjoy learning about someone such as Senator Sullivan, and learning the logic behind his position, which I may not agree with. Geographically and politically, we don't always experience both points of views, but I feel that is how we learn the most and make the most informed decisions."

It was also senior Rebecca C.'s second time at the PACMUN Conference. Last year, she won honorable mention for her involvement as Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. The conference staff members, who were also high school students, evaluated participants on their level of engagement and how well they realistically advocate for their country or constituents.

This year, Rebecca served as a staff member and helped organize the Ad Hoc Specialized Crisis Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee, which is designed for more experienced Model U.N. participants, is what Rebecca describes as a "hard core crisis committee". Participants do not get any pre-session materials and must immediately glean all of the crises information from press releases and calculate decisions on the spot.

Rebecca agrees with Tony, noting her favorite aspect of the conference, and the Model U.N. Interest Group in general, is processing the world's events through a global lens.

"I think it is really important, especially considering this current dividing political environment, to see issues from a global perspective and not get stuck in the partisan fight," says Rebecca. "Sometimes we get so caught up in one relatively unimportant issue and we forget the real problems out there. Being in Model U.N. helps me remember to search for a diversity of viewpoints when educating myself on an issue."