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Model UN: Role-Playing Experience Provides Valuable Learning

Model UN: Role-Playing Experience Provides Valuable Learning
Jim Norman

It was a prime example of learning by doing when five Canterbury students got to role-play and practice their diplomacy in realistic settings during two recent Model UN Conferences.

First, Zhe “Andrew” Ji ’23, Beckett Reynolds ’23, Serena Bacetti ’26, and Lochlan Finnegan ’26 went to Brewster High School in New York for a more relaxed one-day conference well-suited for students new to the Model UN experience. The day included reenactments of a Human Rights General Assembly, a Disarmament and Security Committee, and a Crisis Committee. 

“The Brewster conference is great because it is, as Model UN calls it, a JV conference, a scrimmage, and it is only one day which is ideal for new people,” said History and Social Sciences Teacher Stephen Hewston, the Model UN faculty advisor. “Andrew and Lochlan were trying to negotiate the reduction of nuclear missiles. One was China and one was the U.S. By the end, they had figured out a resolution and passed it. It is like playing the board game Risk with all the diplomacy.” 

Then Serena and Lochlan joined Gabe Bradshaw ’24 a week later for a more rigorous three-day conference at the University of Connecticut that dealt with Big Tech regulation and global economic recovery from COVID. Serena took home a Most Outstanding Delegate award for her work at UConn, and all the students honed valuable skills.

“Both conferences were terrific,” said Lochlan. “The Brewster one was more of an introductory conference, so it was more easygoing and very enjoyable. And even though the UConn conference was more difficult, the people there were very helpful and the topics were interesting.”

Stephen appreciated the opportunities for his students to practice some of the concepts covered in his classes. “Putting students in the shoes of someone trying to come up with a solution is a very useful teaching tool,” he explained. “They get to practice their public speaking skills, interpersonal relationships, and research and writing.”

Practice makes perfect, and Model UN is the perfect venue for our students to do just that.