Friday, May 19, 2006

Model UN. I’m pleased to report that my teenager had a great time at the YMCA’s Model UN conference he went to last weekend. Some 260 kids from across California gathered at the Pasadena Convention Center to discuss international issues.

My son said the most fun thing was the three-legged race and the water-ballon toss they had during the break on Saturday, but I think he really enjoyed the public speaking and debating aspects, as well.

Basic facts: the YMCA’s Model UN is part of the organization’s Youth in Government program. The Model UN programs are open to 7th-9th graders (Youth in Government is for 9th-12th graders). The Model UN conferences are held once a year. Registration and fees come to about $500, so its not cheap, but this includes two weekend field trips (a training trip and the big “General Assembly” meeting).

The delegates are assigned a country. My son was assigned Chile and he prepared position papers on global warming and international drug trafficking. Their positions reflect the student’s beliefs, not necessarily the positions taken by the real country. At the general assembly, the students speak and vote on behalf of their country.

When I picked him up at the local Y, he was in high spirits and bidding goodbye to some of the new friends he’d made. He told me his only regret was that he didn’t sign up for it last year (as a 9th grader, this was his last eligible year).

My wife and I have been somewhat disappointed with the academic standards at our local high public high school, so we were pleased our son got a chance to interact with civic minded, intellectually oriented kids from around the state.


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