Leah Allen '22
Members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich Model United Nations (UN) team represented the Upper School at the 2022 Cornell University Model UN Conference (CMUNC) April 21 to 24. At the conference, students discussed issues ranging from coronavirus pandemic responses and aid for global refugees to fictional conflicts between the Gods of Olympus and characters from the Lord of the Rings. Simultaneously, participants sharpened debate and public speaking skills while collaborating with student delegates from across the country. Sophomore Emma Robredo hopes that engaging in dialogue surrounding global issues at a young age will guarantee socioeconomic progress. Madame Souad Malih, Upper School Language Teacher, and Ms. Danielle Adiletta, Upper School Mathematics Teacher, strived to empower the all-female Model UN team as faculty chaperones.
The Cornell International Affairs Society (CAIS) aims to increase knowledge and understanding of international social and political issues. In accordance with this mission, CAIS organizes annual high school competitions to educate and empower students to become the next generation of global leaders, according to cmunc.net. In 21 separate delegations that mimicked the precise structure, schedule, and procedures of the UN, students spent four days debating and collaborating to draft comprehensive resolutions that addressed the issues outlined in their respective assignments. Ms. Adiletta spoke on the importance of youth interest in global events.
“Our world is constantly changing and evolving,” Ms. Adiletta said. “It is extremely important for young women to stay informed. I encourage students to keep an open mind and normalize changing their opinions when new or factual information is presented. CMUNC provides an opportunity not only to learn, but a space to speak on complex topics. Students are encouraged to participate in respectful debate and create solutions to some of our world’s most difficult problems. Opportunities like CMUNC help to shape a generation of leaders.”
The CAIS hosted this year’s conference for both in-person and virtual participants. The organization hoped to increase overall accessibility through its hybrid format and thus encourage a wider range of students from various parts of the country to become involved, according to cmunc.net.
After another year of global and domestic tumult, experts assert that youth engagement with sociopolitical issues is crucial to strengthening democracy. Increased cultural awareness, adequate education, and political involvement from adolescents will be necessary to create stable and peaceful societies and ensure the future development of equitable policies, according to aceproject.org.
Emma attended her first in-person Model UN conference this year. As a delegate for the World Health Organization, she discussed ways the UN can aid in preventing future pandemics and expand vaccination rates and vaccine availability. Emma believes that discourse surrounding prevalent world issues can be beneficial to students her age.
“I think it is very important to consider solutions to global issues at a young age,” Emma said. “[During] a presentation at the opening ceremonies, we were told that discussing international issues allows us to understand our own power. Although we can be pessimistic like a good majority of our world today, the youth can learn that it is possible [to change] the world since we now know the process needed to solve problems. In addition, at these conferences, we get an understanding of global issues the world is plagued with today and begin thinking about solutions that usually take a while to generate. We become comfortable in understanding that not everyone can be in agreement [and] we learn to be open-minded and considerate of others.”
As an all-female team, the Sacred Heart Model UN club aims to increase the involvement of women in international leadership. Today, while the representation of women in the UN stands at approximately 41.8 percent, the intergovernmental organization has never had a female Secretary-General. Four women have been elected President of the UN General Assembly in its 76 years and only 24 of the 193 UN member states have a female Head of State, according to un.org. Madame Malih spoke on the importance of empowering young people, and especially young women, to engage in global leadership.
“I believe that in order to change the world, it is very important for students, in general, to remain informed on current events and seek to enrich their intellectual capacities to better understand some of the world’s most pressing concerns,” Madame Malih. “In particular, we have to encourage young women to be more involved in conversations surrounding international issues and to strive to take the leadership role in decision-making, mainly because they are underrepresented at all levels of leadership.
Featured Image by Leah Allen ’22