Although most are not old enough to vote, high school students arrived on campus this week to work on the most pressing issues in global affairs.
The IU Model United Nations team has collaborated with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs for the Model United Nations camp at Briscoe Quad.
The annual event aims to teach high school students how to participate in a Model UN competition.
Students have participated in simulations that require them to lobby on behalf of the country they represent for support from other nations.
“Instead of just being passive recipients of information, they become the experts, and they interact with peers from other institutions,” camp director Susan Siena said.
Before the simulation, participants are given a global issue and a country. They must research the position of the country they are to represent and write a solution for the issue that reflects their country’s position.
Camp counselor Landon Davison said he believes the exercises allow participants to learn more about their positions and the opposing stances through negotiation.
“It gives them the skills to look at another point of view and understand it, accept it, possibly even argue for it and at the end come out knowing a lot more about themselves and about the people that they interact with on a daily basis,” Davison said.
Thirty-nine high school students from the U.S. and India are participating in the week-long summer program.
During the academic year, the IU Model UN program connects with high schools that have existing Model UN or speech and debate teams to attract potential participants to the camp.
However, participants, regardless of their level of experience, can always learn a lesson from the summer camp, Siena said.
“It’s very different in that way because you can do Model UN — you can walk in having never done it before and get something out of it,” Siena said. “Or, you can have participated in 10 conferences and still get something out of it.”
Participants also attend a series of lectures discussing a variety of international issues.
Among the list of speakers was Feisal Amin Rasoul Istrabadi, former UN Ambassador on behalf of Iraq.
Mara González Souto, co-president of the IU Model UN team, said exposure to international affairs at an early age is essential to creating individuals that are accepting of diversity.
“Being able to look beyond one’s culture, economic and political system and see how other nations do things differently, without questioning and criticizing, is cultivating open-mindedness,” González Souto said in an email.
“That is a skill students need to strengthen at a young age.”