Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Model U.N. at UNI

Last week, busloads of high school students were dropped off at the University of Northern Iowa for the 50th annual Iowa High School Model United Nations (IHSMUN) Spring Conference. Each year, undergraduate students at UNI facilitate and host high school students for the fall conference at the Iowa Capitol and the spring conference on UNI's campus.

Model UN
Ron McMullen, an Iowa native who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea, Africa, was the keynote speaker for the Model U.N. spring conference hosted at UNI.

For many, Model U.N. may only be associated with TV shows like "Community" and "Parks and Recreation." On these shows, Model U.N. is depicted as groups of students who represent countries that start wars and conflicts with other student representatives. While there is some truth to this portrayal, many high school students see Model U.N. as a chance to interact with some of their smartest peers across the state.

"Through Model U.N., I learned to collaborate with new groups of people and how to lead when outside of my comfort zone," said Victoria Hurst, who has participated in Model U.N. as both a high school student and undergraduate at UNI. "I am unsure that I would have been as successful in my college experience without having participated."

At the event, nearly 25 high schools from Iowa represented 39 countries of the U.N. High school students modeled the procedure of the U.N. in New York City, working with peers to draft resolutions on topics of international importance using viewpoints of member nations. Topics included everything from refugee rights to the establishment of the State of Israel.

"Model U.N. grants students the opportunity to learn about global issues that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about in a classroom setting," said Christina Johnson, secretary-general of IHSMUN. "Students also learn public speaking and communication skills, and how to interact with students who have different views."

Each year, the conference hosts guest speakers who have experience with international issues. This year, the keynote speaker was Ron McMullen, an Iowa native who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea, Africa.

At Model U.N., high school students from across Iowa are gaining knowledge and skills that are important in an increasingly globalized world. "The opportunities that Model U.N. creates for high school students are endless," said Johnson.