Who's in the Burrow?

Marmots Storm United Nations

Solving complex global issues might seem relatively manageable from the comfort of the classroom setting during normal waking hours.

But being awakened at 2 a.m. to react in concert with other countries to an emerging global crisis can be quite another matter altogether.

Eighteen Sugar Bowl Academy student-athletes who recently returned from the International Model United Nations Conference in San Francisco learned how unreachable consensus might seem when all the world’s stakeholders - each with its own competing interests and political agendas - gather to weigh matters that potentially impact all of the planet’s inhabitants.

Chuck Klein, Riley Plant

“I learned a lot about what politicians go through, particularly in solving international crises,” said SBA student-athlete Taylor Elicegui. “Being woken up at 2 am to solve a hostage crisis in the Philippines provided me with great insight to real international affairs.”

Hosted by the Parc 55 at San Francisco’s Union Square, the IMUNA (International Model United Nations Association) Conference ran from December 1-3.

According to IMUNA’s Web site (imuna.org), the goal is simple: "Education through Simulation."

Grace Hutton, Taylor Elicegui

For SBA students, simulation took a variety of forms, even pre conference. In preparation, students were required to write position papers - in SBA Model U.N. Club Founder Conner Evans' case, 7 pages long! -  regarding the issues central to their respective committees.

“Through research, discussions and lecture with the SBA History Department faculty and group meetings, Model U.N. members worked to understand complex global issues ranging from human rights of displaced persons to threats of bioterrorism,” said Andy Knox, SBA Social Studies Department Chair and one of three SBA faculty members including Corbin Prychun and Kelly Farrell to travel to the event.

During conference proceedings, SBA students represented the South African and Ugandan delegation in one of seven United Nations committees.

Said Knox: “Students worked in committee to discuss and debate their assigned world issues. The simulation had students using the same language and terminology of the U.N. while additionally following the same protocols as the actual United Nations of moderated debate, drafting resolutions and making amendments to resolutions.

“The Model U.N. experience attempts to simulate real world international discussions. Students must understand and play the role of their assigned country/delegation, form diplomatic alliances with likeminded nations as well as work under real time constraints.

“One of the more extreme, but very real, examples was when two of the seven committees were awakened at 2:00 am Friday morning and asked to dress and report to a conference room to be briefed on an evolving world crisis situation.

“The committees then proceeded to work until 6:30 am until they had successfully dealt with the issues at hand.

“This part of the Model UN experience aims to simulate the reality that - for world leaders and diplomats - a full nights sleep is certainly not guaranteed, and that if and when a crisis should take place that they need to be present to deal with the issue in real time.

“Overwhelmingly the feedback from SBA students was that this was a positive and fun new learning experience. The Model UN Club at SBA is already beginning to think about the next conference to attend.”

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