On Friday, November 3, 2017, twenty-three upper school students set off for a weekend of strategy, creativity, challenges, and camaraderie at the 37th Annual Tennessee YMCA Model United Nations Conference in Murfreesboro.
Sponsored by Jenny Shorten and Chris Luketic, Model UN is important at ECS as it provides students with a truly holistic educational experience. Students undergo rigorous academic preparation as they research the country they have been assigned as well as the UN committee they are simulating and then create impactful resolutions. This academic preparation requires the student to develop an understanding of modern international relations through research in small groups. By representing their assigned countries, students expand their knowledge of other cultures as they are forced to abandon their personal opinions and discover the very different ways that countries can approach the same problems.
Led by seniors Emma Johnson and Ali Romines, the 2017 ECS MUN Team represented eight countries from all over the globe. As delegates from Gabon, Rwanda, Malawi, Seychelles, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tuvalu, students were called upon to present speeches, answer technical questions pertaining to their resolutions, and actively engage in con/pro debate. Ali and Emma both served in leadership positions as part of the Secretariat of the UN. Ali was the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Emma served as the Under-Secretary for Drugs and Crime. They had to seek out resolutions pertaining to their offices and encourage delegates to pro or con them if they found them worthy of debate. They were also part of a mock crisis in which Colombia declared war on Venezuela.
The eight ECS teams did extremely well in Committee on Friday. Gabon, represented by Aaron McCaig and Wyatt Philley, took up the cause of child soldiers in their country and around the world. Rebel forces destroy the childhood innocence of thousands of children by taking them from their villages and forcing them to serve in the army. They learn to shoot an AK- 47 and hate everyone who comes up against the rebel army. If and when these soldiers are rescued by the government, they have difficulty reintegrating into society because of all the lost years. Wyatt and Aaron suggested ways to educate these students and prepare them for reintegration in society and regular jobs in the future.
Laura Beth Baker and Margaret Porter represented Malawi and brought everyone's attention to the many victims of HIV/AIDS. The main focus of the United Nations seems to be finding a cure for the disease. The two sophomore girls argued that a greater problem lies with the orphans left behind. In thousands of households in Malawi, children as young as 10 years old are left as the primary caregivers. Imagine feeding, educating and taking care of the medical needs of a family at the age of ten? Laura Beth and Margaret suggested a special task force be formed to investigate the matter and help relieve these children of the stress factors.
Hart Madison, Jacob Mohler, and Noah Mrok represented the Seychelles, an island off the coast of Africa. Because of its close proximity to Ethiopia and Djibouti, pirating has affected their economy in the past. NATO has just ended Operation Ocean Shield which was a measure to protect ships from pirates in the Indian Ocean. The three sophomores representing argued that without a military presence in the area, the problem would resurface again. They proposed the purchase of three warships to protect the waters and offered their country as a port.
Seniors Stuart Glassell, Ashton Glassell, and Wilkes Rowland did their best to protect the endangered fish species off the coast of Ecuador. They implored the International Court of Justice to prosecute the perpetrators and agreed to house the accused in Ecuadorian jails. That did not go down too well as Ecuadorian jails are not exactly known for their comfort and hospitality. Fellow seniors Ellie Kate Forrester and Emma Baltz, representing Kyrgyzstan, continued to fight for endangered species, only this time, the snow leopard. These beautiful creatures are being poached and their fur sold for thousands of dollars. In a few years, the girls stated, there may not be snow leopards in our world anymore. This resolution caused much debate, especially from the Chinese delegation. Understandable, considering the fact that Kyrgyzstan accused Chinese farmers of being the poachers.
Finally, the two freshmen groups were simply amazing. They worked extremely hard and were formidable debaters. Phoebe Harpole, Emma Grigson, and Kanny Kumtor discussed the plight of albinos in Rwanda. These poor people live in fear because they are considered magic. They are murdered or mutilated on a regular basis and the girls suggested the creation of safe houses for them and a public awareness program. Grace Evans, Anna Grace King, and Tancie Lewis brought everyone's attention to the sad plight of the people of Tuvalu. Apparently their island is sinking and every single person needs to be relocated. The girls asked the UN to help them find a place to live and asked that they be able to maintain their identities as Tuvaluans. They were extremely well received and excited to make it on the docket.
The weekend was full of activity and fun. We were extremely proud of our Knowledge Bowl students, Margaret Stevens, Ali Romines, Emma Johnson, and Stuart Glassell, who came in second in the World Cup Challenge. Laura Beth Baker. Jacob Mohler, and Taylor Ann Carpenter received Outstanding Delegate Awards which was phenomenal as only 39 students received that honor out of 1,000 delegates. An exhausted bunch arrived back at school on Sunday evening, ready to start preparing for the Youth in Government Conference in April.