Students from MacEwan’s United Nations Club look up at a video conference screen connecting them with another group of students 7,000 kilometres away.

Modelling global citizenship

April 23, 2019 | Society
In the MacEwan United Nations Club, the director general is in charge of educating the university’s delegates who travel to United Nations simulations, representing a member country and working to resolve issues of global concern. But Sean Waddingham never imagined that taking on the role this year meant he’d also have the chance to train students on the other side of the globe.

In a project initiated by MacEwan’s Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre (URDC), the executive members of the club and its faculty advisor, Dr. Chaldeans Mensah, are mentoring and training faculty and students from two universities in Ukraine. Using proven training techniques the club has developed over its 25-year history, the MacEwan students will share their expertise in using diplomatic strategies to build consensus.

Students from both countries will work together online until June when members of MacEwan’s UN Club travel to Ukraine to meet their fellow students face-to-face and complete more training. They’ll follow that with further online training until November, when students from both countries will meet up in Erfurt, Germany for a National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference. All this is in preparation for the project’s final goal: coming together in New York in March 2020 for the world’s largest NMUN conference.

The project is an example of peer-to-peer training at its finest, says Chaldeans. Not only will the MacEwan students share their winning resources and expertise (the club has been awarded Outstanding or Distinguished Delegation 20 of the 25 times it’s been to NMUN in New York), they’ll also gain something valuable.

“Above all, the students will learn how to overcome their cultural differences to work together in joint delegations to represent the foreign policy positions of countries that are quite different from their own,” says Chaldeans. “It’s a project that opens pathways for collaborations between academic institutions and cements the strong historical ties between Canada and Ukraine.”

Ashlee Rolheiser, the MacEwan UN Club’s outgoing secretary general, says that the club is excited about travelling to Ukraine, but adds that the implications of the collaboration are much greater. “To think that this small idea turned into a global partnership reinforces the idea that there is no ceiling to what we can accomplish. Currently it’s a partnership between Canada and Ukraine, but in the coming years who knows which doors a collaboration of this nature could open.”

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