By Jon Platt
Baylor’s Model United Nations program is reaching out to high school students across the country to build both the program and the university.
High school students from across Texas are gathering this Saturday at Old Main for the tournament and out-of-state schools will once again participate.
With the addition of students from Louisiana, approximately 300 participants will compete, representing more than 50 nations.
“This gives the high school students a chance to do what our students are doing in New York,” said Dr. Rebecca Flavin, lecturer of political science. “It’s a great learning opportunity because most students aren’t experienced this deeply on the international level.”
In a class dedicated to preparing for Model UN, Flavin’s students organized the event and will serve as the chairs of various committees.
Atlanta senior Laura Beth Hooper will serve as chair of the mock World Health Organization.
“We’ll be here this weekend for two reasons,” Hooper said. “First, to show the high school students what MUN does and how it works. And second, to show them what Baylor has to offer and, hopefully, recruit as many as possible in.”
Model UN is an academic tournament that seeks to educate students on current world issues and encourages them to think critically with team competitions and find solutions in a way actual nations would. In preparation for the competition, students collaborate and research topics for assigned countries. Students then make decisions based on diplomacy and how they feel their country would best handle the situation on an international level.
Flavin said Baylor’s team travels twice a year to compete against other national and international teams. In November, approximately 15 Baylor students will travel to Chicago to represent the university in a competition. Next semester, a team will travel to New York for another national tournament.
“Participating in these competitions gives students the opportunity to assume the role of a nation,” Flavin said. “They have to think like that nation and then try to represent that nation’s interests as best they can. It’s a great learning experience because most students won’t get to delve this deeply into the issues, both international and national.
Hooper serves as head delegate of Baylor’s Model UN team during competition. She joined the organization her sophomore year and said she thinks it has cemented many principles and lessons she will carry into her career. She also said participating in the tournament gave her perspective on career goals.
This competition will challenge high school students to develop ideas, work through them and expand their understanding of how international bodies communicate, Hooper said.