Simulation allows students to learn how today’s leaders operate at national conferences

November 30, 2010 — by Deborah Soung

Amid the quiet chatter in teacher Matt Torrens’s room during tutorial on Nov. 17, about a dozen world geography students fiddled nervously with their placards, which displayed the names of countries, and shuffled their neatly typed notes.

The speaker whose placard was Iran stood up to defend her country’s use of uranium as an energy source. Slowly, Russia and America began to offer hesitant rebuttals, questioning why Iran could not use a different energy source. And the Model United Nations meeting was off.

Junior Sankash Shankar and senior Vijay Menon, using a claw hammer as a makeshift mallet, acted as the chairpersons of the United Nations conference simulation, while the freshman students made up the “House.”

“The point of the meeting was for the kids in the world geography classes to get an opportunity to get exposed to actually defending a specific position,” said Menon.

To prepare for the simulation, students “did a bit of research before we wrote up the paper, and then we used our position paper to refer to while debating,” said sophomore William Giallo, one of the representatives of the United States.

Contrary to what would happen at a usual Model United Nations meeting, the chairpersons had trouble with getting some of the other countries to state their opinions. Countries represented included Iran, Afghanistan, Germany, the U.S., Brazil, China, Russia and India.

“The kids that were really getting into it did a really good job,” Menon said, “but some didn’t participate as much as they probably should have.”

The world geography students ranged from the shy to confident. The more confident students had clearly done their research thoroughly and were increasingly enthusiastic about sharing their information. A select few read their statements as fast as possible to convey the maximum amount of information they could in the 45-second time slot allotted for points of information.

Giallo, one of the quieter students at the meeting, said, “[The simulation] could have gone better if people had done more research, but I think it went pretty well.”

After the bell rang at the end of tutorial, a resolution was quickly formulated because many of the students had to leave for class. The debate came to a close with America and India, the two countries that most staunchly opposed Iran throughout the simulation, reluctantly accepting the Iran’s use of nuclear weapons.

Though he went mainly for the extra credit offered, Giallo said he “learned a bit more about what’s going on in the Middle East,” showing that the United Nations simulation was a success since it helped students become more aware of current events.