Story by Andrew S. Lay
Earlier this year, 20 Highland View Academy (HVA) juniors and seniors joined more than 100 academy students from across the Chesapeake Conference to participate in the second annual Capital Model United Nations (Model UN), held at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md. The high schoolers could not wait to engage fellow students on important and current human rights issues.
Senior Summer Seaward explains, “I was nervous to attend Model UN because it seemed very intimidating and serious at first. But once we got there, I realized this was an opportunity of a lifetime to experience how the world comes together to solve problems.” Similarly, junior Reagan McCain acknowledges that “at first it was really scary ... but I was surprised by how fun it was and how much I learned about public speaking and collaboration.”
As this would be a first-time experience for students, Jonathan Scriven, the associate director for the Honors College, met with the group to discuss the role and purpose of the Model UN. Students divided into delegations of three and were assigned a country to represent. Each delegation chose an ambassador to be the official spokesperson whose role was to prepare a welcome speech highlighting their nation’s main interests, contributions and hopes for the day of political debate, compromise and resolution-writing.
In the weeks leading up to the event, and with the help and guidance of April Lutz, HVA’s history teacher and vice principal, each delegation spent time researching their assigned nation and the chosen topics of debate in order to familiarize themselves with global issues that the UN is currently addressing. Such topics included measures to combat child trafficking; protecting privacy and identity in the digital age; and standards for international intervention and combating pandemics and global health crises—a topic they chose in November but proved to be especially timely.
When the day arrived, students dressed in their best business attire and dove into their roles as ambassadors. Junior Levi Walker especially enjoyed the fun of representing another country’s views rather than his own, as it “allowed [me] to get a broader view of the issues and a better understanding of many perspectives,” he says. Others got to represent their home country, which allowed students like junior Stephanie Jaqua to address current issues Brazil is facing that she has experienced personally.
By the end of the day, the three groups—the Special Commission on Politics and Health; the Economic and Social Committee; and the Human Rights Commission— presented written resolutions that had been debated and amended through student collaboration. HVA students were excited to see one of their own, McCain, win the Outstanding Delegate award and cannot wait for the opportunity to return next year