Fairfield University students host regional Model UN Training Conference


Immigration policy, access to medicine, expanding NATO membership, and nuclear crisis in Iran are not your average topics of discussion among teenagers, but they are just some of the topics high school students will be discussing and debating as part of Fairfield University's Model UN Training Conference on Friday, Nov. 16. The all-day event takes place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room and in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library.

Some 200 students from 14 high schools will be the guests of the Fairfield University Model UN Club whose members will coach the high school students in negotiation, debating skills and parliamentary procedures.

The high school students will have the opportunity to put themselves in the position of another country, and learn to express the viewpoints of that country and not themselves. Participants are addressed as "Japan" or "Ireland," helping them to further remove their own views on the issues from the procedures.

Students learn beforehand the countries they will represent and come to the conference having written and revised their own position papers for the countries they represent. When they get to the conference, they spend about 15 minutes with their Fairfield Model UN moderator reviewing parliamentary procedure and preparing to speak quickly and efficiently about their issue in the 45 seconds allotted to each speaker.

Participants learn to think on their feet through simulations of real UN interruptions, like breaking news press releases about the issues that require delegates to react in the moment.

The high school students who are participating come from seven Connecticut and seven New York high schools including: Bunnell High School (Stratford, CT); Torrington High School (Torrington, CT); West Haven High School (West Haven, CT); Bassick High School (Bridgeport, CT), Thomaston High School (Thomaston, CT); New Milford High School (New Milford, CT); and Marianapolis High School (Thompson, CT). The conference will include other schools from the Tri-State area: Ursuline High School (New Rochelle, NY); Don Bosco Preparatory High School (Ramsey, NJ); Thornton High School (Mt. Vernon, NY); Irvington High School (Irvington, NY); Archbishop Stepinac High School (White Plains, NY); East Hampton High School (East Hampton, NY); and the German School of New York (White Plains, NY).

Members of Fairfield University's Model UN club began preparations for the conference in the spring, choosing the committees that will meet at the conference and the topics they will address. Over the summer they compiled background information about the committees, their purpose and position papers on the selected topics. Students also researched the history of the issues, past decisions on these issues, and the effects of the decisions made. They try to prepare and teach the conference participants as much as possible by including information on further areas of concern and resources.

The conference was started four years ago as a training tool for the Fairfield University team. It gives club members a chance to connect what they're doing in collegiate conferences with the community.

Club moderator and coordinator of International Educational Services, Alejandro Martinez, says, the conference provides high school students with "a clear and easy introduction to how Model UN works. Moreover, the conference addresses great topics of international interest, and gets the students thinking and researching about these."

For more information on this event, please contact Alejandro Martinez at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2445, or by e-mail at amartinez@mail.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 8, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 97