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Model Students at Model UN

Jim Norman

At this year’s Concord Academy Model UN Conference in Massachusetts, six Canterbury students were challenged to take on the role of diplomats working with others to address global issues—and they really rose to the challenge! 

Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies where students perform an ambassador role for an assigned country while debating topics such as gender equality, climate action, global health, and more. 

“It’s essentially a role-playing, problem-solving situation. The students learn to leverage their position and try to make things better,” said History and Social Sciences Teacher Stephen Hewston, who is the Faculty Advisor for Canterbury’s Model UN Club. “There are motions to have debates, moderated caucuses where one person talks and then the next person comes up and talks, unmoderated caucuses where it’s a free-for-all. The whole goal is to pass a resolution. No one person can ‘win it’ without the whole committee doing well. Our students had a great time with it.”

The six Saints who represented Canterbury at the conference—Ruari Bamrick ’24, Gabriel Bradshaw ’24, Beckett Reynolds ’23, Felipe Siabatto ’24, Tomas Siabatto ’24, and Ziyi “Owen” Wang ’24—are all Model UN Club members. While brothers Felipe and Tomas participated in different segments of the event, they had equally valuable learning experiences.

“I was in the General Assembly for COVID-19 vaccine allocations, representing Saudi Arabia,” Felipe said. “We had to do research for position papers that we send to the assembly chairs, so they know where our countries stand. You can also keep additional research to yourself to use as speaking points. I had more fun during the unmoderated caucus when everyone gets up and goes to talk with other countries. You can form alliances and see their papers—and make friends!”

Representing France on the Human Rights Council for Reproductive Rights had its own set of challenges for Tomas. “You have to talk like you are the country, so your own opinion shouldn’t matter,” he explained. “It does not matter what you think about the topic; it matters what your country thinks about it. You have to speak like you are the country itself. A lot of people fail at that; they start thinking, ‘What would I do?’”

The knowledge and skills gained at the conference make it well worth the challenges, according to Ruari, who also served on the COVID vaccine assembly. “Model UN helps you learn important life lessons such as public speaking, persuasion, and working with a team,” she said. “I came away with a better understanding of international relations and how the UN runs, as well as the ability to team up with strangers to find a solution for fixing a global issue.”

And Beckett came away from the event winning an award for Outstanding Delegate! As a member of a crisis committee dealing with the aftermath of Julius Caesar’s death, he played the part of Marcus Agrippa, one of the generals leveraging for the position. Ever the proud mentor, Stephen said the award was very much deserved. “What Beckett did was come in well-researched, and he just did a good job. He did not steal the floor, but he also didn’t melt into the background.”

For his part, Beckett said the whole experience helped him grow as a person. “I found a side of me that was able to communicate with people my age I did not know, and that is truly what makes Model UN such a unique experience,” Beckett shared. “It allows you to immerse yourself in a narrative and play a character without any preconceived notions of who you are. It was incredibly fun!” 

After leaving the hilltop at 6:00 AM and not returning until after 7:00 that night, the group was still in high spirits—and anxiously looking forward to the next conference!