Sixth- through eighth-grade students from Trinity Classical Academy and various schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District joined their peers in Los Angeles as delegates in the Model United Nations, or MUN, program.
Middle school students participating in the MUN program were given the opportunity to discuss international issues, discover other cultures, develop life-enhancing skills and make new friends at the four-day event which students serve as delegates to the participating countries in the United Nations.
The 10 students from Erin Weiss’ local YMCA group were split into two delegations and chose to represent Iran and Jordan at this year’s summit, where they discussed pressing national-level issues such as cyber-security, budgets and other political projects with more than 750 children residing throughout the state.
“You don’t have to be a political individual to be a part of the program,” said Weiss, a senior program director with the YMCA. The competition teaches life skills that go beyond politics.
“Students must consider and learn the needs and ideals of the country they’re representing in the U.N.,” Weiss said, “but they also have to learn how to present themselves as a leader and thought-provoker.”
Many children who come to the program are initially quite shy and afraid to speak up. Weiss said they are soon taught to be independent, self-motivated and hard-working in the months leading up to the camp.
“It’s very easy to see growth from the students. Not only in content knowledge, but in leadership and how they express their opinions,” Weiss said.
“Students come to understand how valuable expressing their opinion is, even if it’s unpopular,” Weiss added. “They come to find that the most popular opinion isn’t always the best opinion, and vice-versa.”