MUN travels to Greece

MUN takes advantage of virtual meetings and goes international.


Bruce Carlisle

MUN meets via Zoom.

Colette Reitenour, Illustrator

Model United Nations is a class meant to teach students research, debate and writing skills. The class meets every Mon. from 4-6:30 pm, though their main focus is the conferences they attend to debate with other schools. These meetings are generally restricted to local schools, but Capo’s MUN class has been taking advantage of Zoom conferences and looking to go outside the US. 

They began entertaining the possibility of an international conference in January, now able to expand their horizons because of virtual meetings. It was difficult to find a conference that accepted international students, but the class was successful in finding a conference in Greece held on Jan. 16 and 17.

Usually, students are assigned a specific committee, country and issue. For example, Junior Sebastian Elizarraras was assigned to argue Iran’s position on the United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) committee, focusing on invasive species. Before each conference, members are expected to research their country’s position in preparation for debate and create a position paper. Once at the meeting, each person acts as a delegate for their country. 

“You have to debate as your country, not with your own solutions. For example, one time I was Iran in dealing with endangered species. Iran’s position at the time was that they didn’t have the time to focus on endangered species and didn’t have comprehensive legislation dealing with poaching. So in essence, It’s like, we don’t care. It was really difficult,” Elizarraras shared.  

This conference was much different and provided a fun change of pace for the class. Not only was it formatted differently, it also took place from 10 pm to 6 am in California due to the 10 hour shift in time zones. 

It was separated into two four-hour sessions, the first of which dedicated to writing a resolution paper. Students from multiple schools entered breakout rooms to find others with similar solutions and worked with each other to craft their resolution paper. The students meticulously examined their countries’ policies and made sure their points aligned. 

The second session, held after the 3-4 am lunch break, was spent defending the resolution paper. 

“It was firing off the speeches of people defending or attacking the resolution. It was really interesting because, in a way, you had a deeper understanding of what everybody’s country policy was. At the same time, though, there was way less debate than there are like at typical conferences for us,” Elizarraras explained. 

The conference was held in English, so Capo’s MUN program didn’t face a language barrier, but the hosting schools were forced to use their second language. 

“All of the Greek students knew English really well, but it is their second language. It was really interesting to see a couple of people having difficulty with grammar and whatnot, and the chairs [people who run the individual committee rooms] would help correct them and present their points better,” Elizarraras commented.  

While this debate certainly came with its challenges, it was a valuable experience and MUN looks forward to another international conference scheduled for March 27 in Japan. Although this is not the first year the class has traveled, they are certainly taking advantage of the added freedom that comes with e-meetings.