Meadowridge Voices Blog

A Weekend at Vancouver Model United Nations (VMUN):

One best delegate, one honourable mention, three student experiences

Over the weekend, Meadowridge students participated in the Vancouver Model United Nations Conference. This conference is now the largest student-run conference in North America, hosting 1,400 attendees from around the world.

As Model UN leader Mr. Kevin Kennedy puts it, "To receive any formal recognition at such a large, high-calibre event is a significant achievement."

Meadowridge students performed very well, earning one Best Delegate and one Honourable Mention. What's the Model United Nations really like, you ask? We were wondering too, so we caught up with three of our students to find out.

Jeffrey G. (Grade 11)
Best Delegate, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

Tell me about the VMUN experience... what does a regular day look like?

The Model United Nations conference is always very eventful and tightly scheduled. If I were to sum up a day at the conference in a few words, it would be like this: each morning, I would rise at around 6am to shower, get changed, review a little bit, or simply lay on the bed for a while. The first committee session would usually start at 9am, on my way to the committee session I would usually have a few casual conversations with the staff members, as that I know a lot them from my own staffing experiences, and it is always good to build connections.

"I would spend countless hours advocating for my country's views, drafting resolution papers, and answering delegates' questions and notes. There is never a dull moment."
Jeffrey G.

During committee sessions, I would spend the entire time fully emerged in the exciting debate that the committee is discussing. Lunch is usually the shortest time of the day, as that it is usually spent with the delegates from my committee, and I find it very interesting to meet new people and to learn about the non-delegate side of the people in my committee. Often these are the people who I form blocs with to write resolution papers. After lunch, the committee sessions would recommence, and I would then once again spend countless hours advocating for my country's views, drafting resolution papers, and answering delegates' questions and notes. There is never a dull moment. Lastly, approaching the night, it is time to spend time with my closest friends: my school friends. We would eat out at a casual restaurant, go around downtown, talk about life, and discuss about how our committee is going.

Tell me about your committee this year. (Jeffrey won Best Delegate at the CANIMUN conference for his committee work in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime last year!)

This year my committee is called FAO, the Foods and Agriculture Organization. I was the delegation of Cuba. Our committee debated on two different topics: famine in four countries and how to feed 9 billion people by 2050. As the delegation of Cuba, and as a part of FAO, the debate surrounding the topic is very neutral; there are very few view points on the countries advocating for ensuring food security. The only disagreements that I had to debate for is the use of GMOs and financing for FAO. The story of how I explored this topic is actually very interesting. This summer I was accepted as staff for ConnectMUN 2017; I was the director of FAO and I researched pages upon pages about FAO and food security so I could write a backgrounder to provide delegates to read. After having finished my ConnectMUN staffing experience, I became very interested in the committee that I directed, so I signed up for FAO for VMUN.

What keeps your involved in Model UN?

What keeps me involved in Model United Nations? This question would be simplest out of them all. Model United Nations is a platform for delegates to research and understand international diplomacy and to debate for different types of world problems. I enjoy the exciting debate that I have with the delegates during the committee session. Furthermore, I enjoy meeting my friends that I've made from MUN and making new friendships with people at the conference. The atmosphere of the people with whom I surround myself from MUN is very inspirational and positive—the delegates, the staff, the secretariats—they have all motivated me to become who I am now!

What does it take to earn Best Delegate?

Being the best delegate is not easy, and everyone has their own way of achieving such an award. As for me, having won multiple best delegates awards previous to this conference, I find one thing in common from all of the conferences that I have attended and won such an award. Being the Best Delegate means to dominate the committee; your commitment, engagement, and contribution to the committee is essential. Out of the three best delegate awards that I have won, each conference I was always the brightest voice in the committee, I brought new inspirational ideas, I spoke in well-articulated sentences, I opened up to all of the delegates around me, I answered stacks of notes that were sent to me. In order to achieve such a thing, it is prudent to study the topics well before going to the conference. I usually have anywhere between 10 to 15 pages of typed research before going to the committee sessions.

Sean B. (Grade 11)
Honourable Mention, Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD)

Tell me about the VMUN experience... what does a regular day look like?

This VMUN was definitely an experience of a lifetime. Each day was filled with exciting and intense debate, while meeting hundreds of new people. Friday, which was the first day of the conference, began with an interesting presentation by a man who used to interview ISIS and Al- Qaeda members, in which he discussed his experience on the front lines and such. Once that ended, I entered hours of committee sessions, where we discussed a range of solutions to the given topics. The next day, Saturday, was filled with even more intense diplomacy between fellow delegates, until we had a six-hour break, where we were able to kick back and relax (except for the people in our room, it was more of a five-hour math study session). At midnight, we entered our committee rooms to discover that our committee has fallen into a crisis in the South China Sea. Surviving off a caffeinated drink, I was able to help steer our committee into solving the given crisis by two in the morning. On the final day of the conference, we ended our morning with our final committee session, where we were able to pass a resolution to one of the topics, and had a rap battle at the end. This conference definitely allowed me to experience an enjoyable weekend of greeting new people and "munning" with them.

Tell me about your committee.

The committee I took part in was the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). At this conference, I represented Kazakhstan. The topics were Human Trafficking and Energy Security in Asia. Given my country has had many problems with human trafficking, I was fortunate enough to steer the discussion away from my country.

"At midnight, we entered our committee rooms to discover that our committee has fallen into a crisis in the South China Sea. Surviving off a caffeinated drink, I was able to help steer our committee into solving the given crisis by two in the morning."
Sean B.

Kazakhstan is one to mainly support education and creating awareness of the issue within the country. On the topic of Energy Security in Asia, Kazakhstan prioritized the environment, in which we needed to move from fossil fuels and harmful sources of oil to green alternatives. The main ideas I contributed to the committee were creating a micro grid system in rural areas, so we could localize the energy and make it more affordable to those who are in poverty and introducing a cap and trade system to force major firms to begin to transform their business into using environment-friendly oils.

How was your committee work different from last year's? (Sean won Honourable Mention at the CANIMUN conference for his work in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee last year!)

My committee was fairly similar, although this time I took a new look at the committee by choosing a country which has an opposite perspective to the topics. I felt that by doing this, I would learn a lot more on the topic and how it impacts other countries around the world.

What keeps your involved in Model UN?

Now that my "MUN career" is nearly over, I enjoy teaching what I've learnt about MUN to new delegates. After attending my first conference two years ago, I didn't know if Model UN was something I wanted to continue doing, but a close friend of mine kept pushing me to test it out and I will forever be grateful for that. He has taught me all there is to know about MUN and I hope to inspire upcoming delegates the same as he did to me.

Wat does it take to earn Honourable Mention? What skills are required?

Awards are something that are very difficult to obtain in Model UN. It takes experience, public speaking skills, and overall diplomacy. But awards should not be the reason people attend MUN. While receiving recognition for your hard work over the weekend is nice, I don't wish for anyone to be discouraged for not being given an award. This is in particular to new delegates. I sense that there is this underlying fear that if you don't win an award then you're not good enough for MUN, and that is the main reason why people drop out of MUN after their first conference. Just to raise your placard for the first time is much better than an award. To be able to speak in front of a committee room filled with 100 students staring at you takes character, which not a lot of people can do.

Munsa K. (Grade 11)
United Nation Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

What do your past experiences with MUN look like?

I have been a part of the Model UN club since Grade 9 at Meadowridge, and have thoroughly enjoyed my engagement in this club. Briefly, Model United Nations is when students from all around the world congregate to debate pressing international issues and create a resolution paper to solve the issue at hand. Similar to the actual UN, each student represents a country in a certain committee. In the past, I have been a part of committees such as UNHCR, UNODC, WHO, IOC, UNESCO and Kremlin (Russian Government). In addition to becoming much more aware of the world we live in, my experiences at MUN have helped me with my public speaking.

What does Model UN mean to you?

To me, Model UN is a very integral part of my educational experience. It makes my learning well-rounded and relevant the world we live in. It has allowed me to see different perspectives and understand the need for unity and diplomacy among countries. Last year at the CAIMUN conference, I was the Minister of Justice, in the Kremlin (Russian Government). It was after I started doing my research about my position that there was almost no "justice" in my role. I started to look at things through a different lens and all in all this experience has taught me a lot. I realized that Model UN was a lot more than winning an argument or proving other delegates wrong; it was the diplomacy and unity of the UN that caught my attention and motivated me to continue MUN at Meadowridge

Tell me about the VMUN experience... what does a regular day look like?

This year we went to a conference called VMUN (Vancouver Model United Nations), which is the biggest high-school conference in all of Canada with a total of 1,400 attendees from around the world. The conference began on Friday and all Meadowridge delegates met at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is where the conference was held. On the first day we had the opening ceremony and three committee sessions. The first day of committee sessions is always hectic as you are trying to establish your role while getting to know your allies. Curfew was around 12:00 and my roommate and I worked on our homework that night as we knew the next day would be even busier and we would be left with little time to work on it later on in the weekend.

On Saturday we woke up around 7 and went to McDonalds to eat pancakes and then went to our committee session. The second day of committee session was extremely exhausting in terms of debate as several resolution papers had to be completed and we began to discuss our second topic. I was swamped with writing two resolution papers and was still keeping engaged in debate. That night we had a midnight crisis around from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. This stretch of time was grueling and exhausting, but my committee managed to complete a resolution regarding the issue. The Sunday was by far the most enjoyable day in committee sessions. The last day of MUN is always extremely enjoyable as all the papers have been passed and the committee engages in fun activities such as superlatives, rap battles, and dance battles. Although the entire weekend was extremely exhausting, the overall experience was unforgettable.

Tell me about your committee.

My committee was UNESCO (United Nation Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and I was representing the Russian Federation. At times in the committee, I had to play devil's advocate and protect my country's best interests. However, my two topics of debate were "Education to Combat Terrorism" and "Protecting our Oceans".

"[Model United Nations] makes my learning well-rounded and relevant the world we live in. It has allowed me to see different perspectives and understand the need for unity and diplomacy among countries."
Munsa K.

In the first topic we discussed educational reform in developing nations and the need for direct funding. This topic encapsulated several current issues such as terrorism, the use of social media to educate teenagers in developed countries, and corruption within governments.

In the second issue regarding Oceans, Russia was opposing all countries except for China. This topic was about reducing pollution and GHG emissions and possible ideas to reduce the ramifications of climate change impacting the oceans. This topic was extremely hard for me to debate as I had to protect Russia and not let my own opinions interfere.

What's your favourite thing about Model UN?

My favorite thing is the experiential and hands-on learning. There are so many things that you learn from other high-school students and through debate that you cannot learn anywhere else. In a broader scheme of things, MUN has given me so much; I began three years ago as an extremely timid speaker and never had the courage to give speeches and participate in debates. MUN has provided me with a platform to perform and improve my public speaking skills and for that I am truly thankful.

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About Meadowridge

Learning to live well, with others and for others, in a just community.

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12

International Baccalaureate Continuum World School, PYP, MYP, DP

Located in the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada on 27 acres in Maple Ridge

Challenging academic, inquiry-based curriculum, arts, athletics, experiential education

Founded in 1985 with an original enrolment of 85 students