Published March 21, 2017
It’s spring break this week, and students and faculty have left for a well-deserved vacation. But that doesn’t mean there’s no activity on campus, as more than 500 local high school students visit the North Campus today for the daylong Model United Nations General Assembly.
The annual event, which takes place in Knox Hall, is organized by the International Institute of Buffalo with assistance from UB and other local colleges, among them D’Youville, Daemen and Canisius.
Students from 26 schools will be on campus representing 47 countries. The Model U.N. offers them the opportunity to learn about the governments, national interests and foreign policies of their particular country, and gain a better understanding of important international concerns and the activities of the U.N.
In preparation for the event, student delegations wrote resolutions and submitted them to event organizers. During the General Assembly today, delegation members will debate, amend and vote on selected resolutions in committees. The resolutions submitted for debate address a variety of topics, among them clean water, the crisis in Palestine, women’s rights in the Middle East and northern Africa, a UN space program, an international electric grid, piracy at sea, reproductive health and safety, and human trafficking intervention.
May Shogan, director of international exchanges and education programs for the International Institute, says teachers have praised the Model U.N. for helping students with self-confidence, team work, public speaking, leadership, research and writing skills, as well as increasing their “awareness of global issues and where the countries they are representing stand on those issues.”
And for many students, “their participation it has helped them get into the colleges they want,” she says.
Claude Welch, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Political Science who helped bring the Model U.N. to UB in 2004, says the event is important for “preparing individuals for global understanding.”
Welch notes the Model U.N. also has been a useful recruitment tool for UB, attracting some of Western New York’s academically finest high school students. “They are impressed by our facilities and, as a result, many likely apply for admission,” he says. “Some UB undergraduates and faculty members volunteer their services, providing additional perspectives on campus life.”
Brian Waldrop, director of student advisement and services in the College of Arts and Sciences who provides logistical support for the Model U.N., agrees.
“The Model U.N. provides an opportunity for UB to show ourselves to a large gathering of outstanding high school students from around Western New York,” he says. “The students spend the day on campus and experience a bit of our ‘big college’ experience.
“It’s also a chance to serve our community with a venue that the International Institute can’t easily replicate anywhere else,” he says.