“Human trafficking has been a recurring issue in the United Nations for the past number of years. It is a local, national and international problem with many dimensions,” he says. “Students are building their public speaking skills, doing research, developing solutions and passing resolutions, while addressing international issues and seeing how they can become part of the global community.”
Model UN made its debut in Alberta at MacEwan University in 1993 as a project in an international relations class. In the more than two decades since, it has spread to different universities and become an annual conference in the province, rotating between three post-secondary institutions. The conference itself is a training ground for MacEwan University students, allowing them to hone their skills in preparation for a trip to participate in a larger Model UN in New York—this year’s team will leave for the Big Apple on March 27.
In years past, students have also competed internationally in Model UN conferences in China, Italy, South Korea and even the Galapagos Islands. Model UN conferences may last a few days, but the impact is lifelong.
“These are very hardworking students who are building skills that they take with them when they graduate from MacEwan University—in graduate school and beyond,” says Chaldeans. “There are so many students who have gone on to do interesting things—law school, master’s degrees in public policy, working in government positions and much more.”
Model UN takes students places
Michael Binnington, a member of MacEwan University’s 2013 delegation to New York, is one of those students.
“When I was working on my undergraduate degree I knew I wanted to do something in international relations, but I had no idea what,” says the first-year master’s student who is currently studying at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. “I was walking down the hall one day and saw a poster that you could go to New York, so I signed up for the United Nations Club and was accepted.”
Seeing that poster and signing up for Model UN was just the beginning. Last fall, with a travel bursary in hand, Michael made his third trip to New York, this time to see the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and for a side trip to a seminar at Harvard University.
“We watched the First Committee during its deliberation, met with diplomats from Canada and Australia, and had briefings with members of the UN Secretariat. It was incredibly interesting to meet with people who were specifically focused on disarmament.”
It was an experience that confirmed that he is on the right path—one that began with Model UN.
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