Friday, April 27th Global Woman Newsletter was at the US State Department to observe the Global Classrooms Washington, D.C. It was their 14th Annual Spring Model United Nations Conference. Global Classrooms DC is the flagship education program of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. The Global Classrooms work with a diverse group of students from 6th grade through 12th grade. Many of the students in attendance were from underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. area. Prior to the day of the conference, the teachers of participating students work with them to strengthen their key skills. The goal is to develop a comfort level in public speaking, negotiating, and writing while expanding their understanding of global issues.
This year’s conference included more than five hundred middle and high school participants from over 30 groups and schools, mostly from the Washington, DC metro area, including children from the Vacances Sans Excision (Vacation without Cutting) Camp. There were students from a high school in the Netherlands, sponsored by the Lebanese American University. A school in Texas was also represented by a group of students. The students discuss such topics as Sustainable Development Goal, including Renewable Energy, Sports Diplomacy and Gender Equality, Crisis of Malnutrition, Child Soldiers, Climate Change and more. With most of the countries in the world represented with various committees, the students brought together many perspectives and ideas to solve these enormous global challenges.
What makes a student eligible? Students are eligible if they are middle or high school students. To apply, students must submit a 400-word essay on What Does UN Model Mean to Me? The essay will be posted to the UNA-NCA Blog. Applicants must also submit a 500-word draft of their opening remarks with the name of their school or their Model UN group. When students apply, they and their educators are advised that they need to respect the space of the conference, and behave accordingly at Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conferences. Any inappropriate and unprofessional behavior could result in their school or group being unable to attend future conferences.
Global Classrooms DC conference is on a first-come first-served basis. By registering early will help ensure their group’s or school’s attendance. All changes in registration must be communicated with the Global Classrooms DC office as soon as possible; this is due to the capacity of the building, and there are no guarantees that changes in registration can be accommodated.
The student-delegates piled in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department. The auditorium was named after a diplomat, Acheson who was unafraid to stand his ground for what he believed. The President of the UN Association of the National Capital Area, Stephen Moseley opened by reminding the delegates that the students from 14 years ago are now in their thirties. He said, some of those students are now working for USAID, US State Department and the United Nations. Moseley said, “Children are very special, and we want to make them feel like they are part of this association.” He continued, “This signifies the long tradition of United States and United Nations history.” He mentioned that history was being made in Asia, as North and South Korea were now on friendly terms after 65 years of disagreement. Moseley told the children that it is the role the United Nations plays in the world when it brings peace among nations.
Addressing the student-delegates via satellite, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley told them that they, the students would get to experience exactly what they, UN representatives do at the U.N every day. She said, “How do you get to convince others to understand what you’re conveying?” She asserted the need for more young diplomats and urged young people to consider the world of diplomacy.
The Global Classrooms DC’s 2018 Secretary-General, Queen Balina mentioned in her speech that there are still nations in the world where girls do not attend school, and many do not have the same opportunities that boys have. Queen Balina is an 8th grade student from Calvin John Middle School. She told her delegates, “I’m more aware of what goes on around me when I am in the Model United Nations, and how these problems discussed affect not only me, but the global community as a whole.” One student-delegate asked Balina, “How can we be like you?” Queen Balina responded, “Don’t try to be like me or anyone else. Just define yourself and be what you want to be.” She told the audience, “By solving the problems of today, we are becoming the leaders of tomorrow. One more child, inspired by what they have learned, is one more child, working to change the world as we know it. By getting involved now, more can be accomplished to solve the problems that humanity currently faces.”
The students came together to discuss pressing international issues. Past keynote speakers at this event have been former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, Andy Rabens. But this year’s Keynote Speaker was a dynamic young lady, Munira Khalif, the Youth Observer to the U.N. Munira Khalif occupies the appointed position by the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Association of the U.S. The purpose of this position is to encourage the youth to engage in global affairs. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Somali parents, Khalif is currently an undergraduate student at Harvard University. Khalif told the audience of student-delegates, “I made the decision to move the needle by working to build libraries and schools in East Africa. I spearheaded a roundtable with other youths from various countries, where together, we addressed human rights issues.” She asked, “Could the world afford a lost generation?” She put out a call for action to make education accessible, so that young people will have the ability to lead. “We are the change makers the world has been waiting for.” Khalif asked the young people to think about how technology can be used to empower their communities.
Munira Khalif shared some of the criticisms she received after she was appointed US Youth Observer to the United Nations. She said people wanted to know how a Somali-American who is a Muslim can represent American youths. Her response was, “That’s what makes this country great.” She majors in Economics with a minor in Government.
In observing the student-delegates offering suggestions, making speeches, giving arguments, making motions and voting on issues such as education, malnutrition, child soldiers; Global Woman Newsletter went away knowing without a doubt that many of those students in another 14 years will be working at the United Nations. Some of them could very well be future leaders of nations. So when Munira Khalid said that they are the change makers for which the world has been waiting, she was voicing the future dreams of countless of youths.
Global Woman Newsletter thanks Inter-African Committee USA for extending the invitation to attend such enlightening event.
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