The Cleveland Council on World Affairs will celebrate 70th year of hosting its Model United Nations conferences, starting with a celebration at its March 4-5, 2015 conference. At Model UN, local high school and middle school students represent countries in UN committees and discuss current global issues. CCWA’s Model UN program is one of the longest continuously running Model UN programs. CCWA’s first conference was held in March 1945, seven months before the actual United Nations officially came into existence, making it one of the first Model United Nations programs in the world.
The first conference was held on March 17, 1945, while the world was still in the midst of the Second World War. Local high school students represented 25 countries in this model assembly of nations. The students discussed issues of peace settlement in Europe around the following topics: Boundaries of Germany, International Organization, Control of Germany, Economic Provisions, Dependent Areas and Internationalized Waters, and Transitional Relief and Reconstruction.
Seventy years later, CCWA’s Model UN program continues to engage local students in global affairs. CCWA hosts four conferences each year, engaging approximately 1,200 students from 40 schools in Northeast Ohio. The theme of the 2014-15 conferences is “World in Conflict”. Conference topics range from cyberterrorism, the situation in Syria, and climate change to women and girls’ access to education and more. 66 countries from around the world are represented at eight UN committees at this year’s conferences.
Student delegates represent an assigned country in a UN committee. Students research their country and global issues, and debate world’s most pressing international issues and conflicts by making motions, delivering speeches, and working collaboratively to write resolutions.
Model UN builds critical 21st century learning skills. According to Maura O’Donnell-McCarthy, CCWA’s Executive Director, “the program prepares students for success in the classroom and beyond by enhancing students’ awareness of global issues and develops their leadership skills, strengthens communication and problem solving skills, and promotes creative learning and critical thinking”.
Quotes from students who participated in CCWA’s conferences on what the program has meant to them:
“Model United Nations experience gives me a deeper global perspective on an international world.” Chris Sekerak, St. Edward High School
“Model UN means getting out of your comfort zone. Speaking with people you don’t know is a really great skill to have, especially with other great thinkers from the area. Model UN lets you be like an adult for a day, speaking on issues that have true impact.” Paige Resnick, Orange High School.
For 92 years, CCWA has worked to build awareness and understanding on world affairs and global issues. CCWA’s mission is to inspire engagement in international affairs through education, citizen diplomacy and public dialogue.
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