Werdohler young people at the UN model conference in New York

Werdohl – Giving a lecture on a highly complex political topic is also a challenge for young people from high school. But when it is not just a matter of expressing one’s own opinion, but also of thinking about the representatives of another country, the whole thing becomes much more difficult. The five comprehensive students Bugra Zengin, Mounir Bouqayoua, Tristan Salmen, José Antônio Francikowski, Renato Enrique Francikowski and the comprehensive student Liliana Friedel even had to overcome another hurdle: They had to give their speeches in English.

The 17- and 18-year-olds attended the National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) from March 10-13, a UN model conference organized exclusively for high school students and taking place in New York. And although the young people could only be there online, it was a special time for them: “It felt like a real school trip. Just as if we had been to New York together. “

For the three English teachers Christina Schmidt, Eva-Maria Kraft and Linda Kramer, the virtual trip and the associated participation were an unforgettable experience. You are extremely proud of the young people who were allowed to represent the country of South Africa.

Before the young people could register for the NHSMUN in December, they had qualified by participating in the MUN at the University of Siegen and gained some experience there. From the beginning of February, one or two preparatory meetings per week were on the work schedule. In this context, the mutual exchange was in the foreground, there was also background information, scientifically worked out by the organization team of the event. The English teachers offered help if necessary.

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The country was then allocated at the beginning of February – and by the end of the month each of the six participants had to finish drawing up their position papers. Each of these documents comprises six to eight A4 pages.

“The students had to deal with highly complex topics – and in highly political language,” says Christina Schmidt, explaining how highly these achievements can be assessed – especially since not even all of the young people take part in the advanced English course. “You have worked your way in incredibly well.” This result suggests that the students as a whole can look forward to a good grade, because: “Participation in this project replaces an exam.”

The students were each members of a committee and – as already mentioned – representatives of the country of South Africa. Each of the committees had to deal with two topics, including, for example, the question: How can the socio-economic barrier be broken? Another topic was the concern to improve the situation of refugees in their own country. Appropriate guidelines had to be drawn up.

Another position paper dealt with the mental health of people living in cities. The black market for organ trafficking and medicines was discussed, as were the questions of how people can be helped who are affected by natural disasters or how asylum systems in other countries can be improved.

The area of ​​climate protection could of course not be missing in the context of the UN model conference – and so the development in rural areas and the effects of climatic changes on agriculture also played a role.

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“It was not easy to put yourself in the shoes of the representatives of the country South Africa,” report the students in unison. Research on the Internet was not easy either. “We compared a lot of sources and found that they often contradict each other,” say the 17 and 18-year-old conference participants.

But despite all the difficulties, looking back, they are enthusiastic, do not want to do without this “great experience about zoom” and are proud to have lost their fear of speaking freely in English. “We also learned a lot about other countries and learned a lot about political views and opinions in this world,” report the young people.

It was interesting to see how participants from other countries represented Germany. Friendships were also made online.

The fact that they also received an award for their achievements at the model conference is not only pleasing to the students, but also to the teachers. From the perspective of the students, the latter also deserved great praise: “We were never left to our own devices, but could always turn to our English teachers with any questions.”

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