The Selwyn House Model United Nations (SELMUN) team was named an Outstanding Delegation in the “Western Europe and Other” category at the World Federation of United Nations Associations, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, near the United Nations Building in New York Feb. 8-11.
The SELMUN delegation earned this distinction because six out of eight team members won Individual Diplomacy Awards at the conference, which included approximately 1000 delegates from 60 countries.
The team is comprised of: Rory Krnjevic, Philippe Guertin, Imtiyaz Bandali and Arieh Rosenthal (all Gr. 9); Ian Mahutte and Stanford Li (both Gr. 10); and Luke Kalaydjian and Sean Watson (both Gr. 11).
The Selwyn House Model UN was the brainchild of Selwyn House Old Boy Abhinav Gupta 2009, who leads the group with Middle School géographie teacher Sylvain Decelles as the faculty advisor.
Mr. Gupta describes SELMUN as “an extracurricular that’s structured like an academic course. It’s both curriculum and club.”
“At some schools, Model UN is a full-time course,” he says. “Some schools even structure it so that you don’t pass unless you’ve earned an award at a conference.”
Model UN competitions can take place in a simulation of UN General Assembly bodies, or in smaller national or regional committees or cabinets. Competitors must deal with things such as economic crises, wars, or natural disasters, with detailed proposals and legislation.
“It’s as grounded in reality as possible,” Mr. Gupta points out. “The level of research requires both breadth and depth; it requires a great amount of reading on the topics at hand.”
As he preps the team for conferences, Mr. Gupta aims to teach them basic concepts in political science and international relations, and coach them in how to research, write position papers and legislation, debate, and negotiate.
“The idea is to appreciate the complexities of what the people from these countries deal with. To be able to actually understand what’s going on in the world.”
SELMUN had a successful run last year, competing at conferences at Marianopolis and McGill, This spring they will compete at John Abbott College in April and host a conference here at Selwyn House May 4-6.
Team member Sean Watson says their recent experience in New York has stoked their fires of enthusiasm for competing in John Abbott and Selwyn House. “We’ve proven we’re a serious organization,” says Sean, “Now we’re ready go and defend our title.”
Worldwide, Model United Nations dates back to Harvard University in 1927, where it was created as a simulation based on the League of Nations. Five years ago, the UN reportedly estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 high school and university students were participating at conferences annually.
The recent conference in New York was co-sponsored by the World Federation of United Nations Associations, a global non-profit organization representing over 100 Model United Nations clubs, and Worldview Education, an organization that offers experiential learning programs for students that focus on global challenges and problems, and engages students in finding solutions to them.