by Angela Park, Communications Associate
Clad in professional business attire, delegates type furiously as they listen to the speaker behind the podium. Not one word is missed. The silence is only broken when the floor is open for questions.
Model United Nations, commonly referred to as MUN, is an extracurricular activity that simulates the eponymous global organization, helping students to learn about contemporary issues, think critically, and develop diplomacy skills. Students represent different countries through committees that discuss controversial political, social, and/or economic issues.
At Graded, MUN membership is currently comprised of 30 High School students and 35 Middle School students. The club is led by Middle School Humanities Teacher Katie Accomazzo and Upper School Brazilian Social Studies Edú Levati.
Each week, both the High School and Middle School teams meet to train in parliamentary procedure, write positions papers, and draft resolutions.
“I remember the first time I went to an MUN meeting [in the sixth grade],” reflected Gianluca S., a junior and MUN Leadership Team member. “I couldn’t really believe people my age were capable of such dynamic conversations.”
For junior and Leadership Team member Alyssa T., MUN allows students to gain greater awareness of global issues and a “deeper understanding of other countries’ and your own country’s points-of-view.”
Throughout the years, Alyssa has also overcome her bashfulness, improved her public speaking, and displayed exceptional leadership skills by organizing the Middle School’s MUN Conference.
“Our focus is to build a program that is student-focused so that it can be sustainable in the future.” According to Ms. Accomazzo, MUN also helps students gain impressive speaking and listening skills, look for critical solutions, collaborate with others, identify fallacious reasoning, articulate the lack of credibility in reasoning, and learn to build strong, plausible arguments.
“Students also learn to have empathy,” added Mr. Levati. “You often represent a country other than your own, and have to understand, empathize and advocate for a country whose position regarding different issues you don’t necessarily agree with.”
In a nutshell, students learn to advocate their ideas efficiently and, as Ms. Accomazzo nicely summarizes, “achieve greatness with humility.”
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At Graded, members take part in Graded Model United Nations (GMUN), São Paulo Model United Nation (SPMUN), Brazil Model United Nations (BRAMUN), and now, the internationally renowned Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC).
At the beginning of this month, 19 members of the club traveled to the University of Pennsylvania to participate in ILMUNC, where 2,000 high school students from all over the globe gathered together for three days to debate issues.
Students were impressed with the high level of expertise and professionalism of MUN teams from other schools in the world. “When you are in an environment where people are so driven, in order to compete with them, you need to work harder than them or never stop working,” asserted Gianluca. “It is great opportunity to learn about the real world.”
In March, some members of the high school MUN club will be traveling to Bahia to participate in the national level at BRAMUN, where they will put their diverse abilities to work.
“All in all, they [students] are developing highly transferable skills that will prepare them at an international level for the future,” Mr. Levati affirmed.