Students lead middle school Model UN



Pierce School sixth grader Finn McMillan shares his perspectives on international issues with the fellow members of the middle school Model United Nations Club.

Sidonie Brown, Staff Writer

Delegates representing countries from across the globe sit in a U-shape discussing climate change. Everyone listens intently as problems are brought up and ideas are exchanged. From renewable energy to ecotourism, each speaker provides a new perspective or solution. The only difference between these guys and those in the United Nations? They’re sixth graders.

Since almost a decade ago, the high school’s Model United Nations Club (MUN) has been working with middle school students in their program, MidMUN. By giving MUN experience to a younger audience, the program extends the club’s community and expands the mindsets of its participants.

According to senior Christian Gaedhe, one of the club’s secretary generals, MUN at the high school provides a space for students to have the opportunity to explore and debate global politics. He said that MidMUN strives to replicate that process.

“We work with middle schoolers to offer that same space and experience to get from a young age of being able to stand up and speak for themselves,” Gaedhe said. “That and to speak with a little bit of eloquence and know about global issues that they definitely would not be hearing about in the sixth, seventh or eighth grade.”

Junior and under-secretary general Caroline Ericsson works with middle school students at the Lincoln school. She sees the program as a pathway for a smoother transition into high school.

“I think {the kids} will be a lot more confident coming into freshman year because they’ll be able to speak in front of people, but they’ll also have a community that they’re already a part of,” Ericsson said.

As Gaedhe started MUN in seventh grade at the Pierce school, he can attest to that. He said that being in the program for so many years has helped it grow into a larger part of his life.

“It just made model UN less about what it actually is, like debating global issues, and more about the skills that it allowed me to gain and the community that I’ve always associated with it,” Gaedhe said. “It’s less of just an activity I do and more of a community that I’ve been a part of for six years.”

According to Ericsson, MUN allows for a structured format that pushes students, especially younger ones, to learn and care about current events.

“If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t normally watch the news, or you’re just not the person who regularly knows about these things, it’s a good way for you to be put in a position where you have to learn about them,” Ericsson said.

That was the case for Pierce sixth grader Sonia Provost. She said that preparing for debates on topics such as weapons of mass destruction and terrorism has opened her eyes to larger discussions.

“We’re encouraged to research at home when we have the time. It’s amazing how much you can learn, even from one article,” Provost said. “But I feel like I haven’t just learned from my own research; I’ve learned from everyone else talking too.”

According to Pierce sixth grader Finn McMillan, the program has shown him other perspectives from around the world and taught him how to tackle an issue from a different point-of-view.

“I’ve learned how to represent a country where you’re not speaking for yourself but speaking from the point of that country,” McMillan said. “But you also use your own beliefs and kind of mix those two together, so that you can provide something that you believe but something that would also be believable by your country.”

Gaedhe said that he is proud of all of the participants that are in and have gone through the MidMUN program.

“You get a lot of the elation of trying to win awards and stuff,” Gaedhe said. “But probably the best feeling you can have is watching the kids that you’ve been teaching over the year stand up and speak passionately at the end of the year.”