This conference recap was provided by Clarissa James from the SFMUN 1 team.
On April 21, 2012 St. Francis High School’s Model United Nations Team brought the United Nations from New York to Sacramento, California in a way never before attempted in northern California. Saint Francis MUN proudly hosted its first middle school Model United Nations Conference, SFMUN 1, instituted to educate students about public speaking, debate, diplomacy, problem-solving, persuasive writing, and teamwork. Not only was this St. Francis’ first middle school Model United Nations Conference, but the first middle school only MUN conference offered in northern California. Nearly sixty students from twenty-one schools throughout the Sacramento region attended this conference, participating in committees with fun topics such as Harry Potter, Paparazzi and Celebrities, Zombie Apocalypse, and Superheroes.
The conference officially started with the opening ceremony, but for the SFMUN team, the day began two hours earlier with the arrival of team members and supportive volunteer parents working to ensure everything was in order and preparing to greet the first delegates. As students began trickling in, they huddled nervously in small groups, unsure of their committees, anxiously twirling their pens, and twiddling their thumbs. The opening ceremony commenced at nine and was then followed by an hour of speaking and writing workshops conducted by seasoned members of the St. Francis team. The middle school students quickly gained confidence while learning the basics of Parliamentary Procedure, Resolution and Position Paper Writing, and Public Speaking.
There was a noticeable change in the students’ demeanor as they opened debate. Shedding their laid back attitudes and instead donning a professional and serious manner, they transformed into delegates. Interviews conducted during lunch revealed the value of information learned from the workshops as well as the benefits of the diplomatic experience gained in delegates first committee sessions. Davita Pandita, a seventh grader from Folsom Middle School stated, “What I found interesting about SFMUN is that it [provides] a whole new experience to understand what it’s like to enter a crisis being the first one to help in…a short amount of time. It also gives you a way to understand and realize how…one person in 30 seconds can [address] an entire country’s needs and [affect] their environment.”
The Harry Potter Committee worked to determine the fate of Ron Weasley, while the Zombie Apocalypse Committee tried to find a solution to combat Zombitis, the illness turning people into zombies. The Superhero Committee came together to decide how to utilize each Superhero’s abilities to best handle the Super Villains’ threats, as the Paparazzi Committee debated the definition of the privacy of celebrities. Though there was some confusion concerning parliamentary procedure, delegates caught on quickly and actively made motions, gave eloquent speeches, and exercised impressive diplomacy during caucuses; the awards presented in closing ceremonies were well deserved.
Comments on the conference were quite positive. A parent remarked, “My 7th grade daughter LOVED her experience and can’t wait to do this again next year and [to] continue on when at St. Francis.” In reference to the participation of St. Francis’ MUN team members, delegates commented “I most enjoyed and appreciated the enthusiasm of the student leaders” and “I liked that they made the situations seem real, which made it more fun. I admire the creativity it took to have us work on fictional situations which symbolized real life problems.” A delegate hearkened back to the goal of the United Nations in stating, “I appreciated the opportunity to meet and share ideas with other students from different schools.”
At this conference, the students learned about the importance of coming together to achieve a common goal in the true spirit of the United Nations. The St. Francis MUN team members modeled the importance of diplomacy creating an atmosphere not of individual competition, but of group understanding and overall improvement. After much hard work and dedication, SFMUN1 was an immense success. The St. Francis High School Model United Nations team is proud to have spread enthusiasm for Model United Nations to such a young audience and honored to be the first northern California school to do so. The team is eager to greet next year’s middle school delegates at SFMUN2.