By Desiree McQueen
BYU is the host of an annual Model United Nations simulation conference where high school and junior high students from around the state have the opportunity to discuss global problems.
This year, students had the opportunity to be a part of many committees including the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
“In this closed state, the Model UN helps students to become aware of the magnitude of the problems around the world,” said Cindy Otis, BYU MUN member, 18, a sophomore from Rochester, New York, majoring in Middle Eastern studies.
High school and junior high students that attended this year”s conference participated in debates with 29 different countries belonging to the United Nations.
“We had the opportunity to work with everyone and their different opinions to come up with one common solution,” said Breeann Luck, 15, a ninth-grader from Butler Middle School in Cottonwood Heights, Salt Lake Co.
“They passed five resolutions against racism,” said Jessica Blomquist, 22, a senior from Redmond, Wash., majoring in International law diplomacy.
Blomquist was the chair of the World Conference against Racism Committee.
The resolutions the students passed were broad, said Ashely Potter, 20, a sophomore from Colorado Springs, Colo., majoring in International studies.
One of the resolutions students passed was to encourage the formation of an international organization designed to deal with specific problems with trafficking of persons, Potter said.
The students who proposed this resolution represented the countries of Afghanistan, Norway and Ireland.
Trafficking of persons is a world issue of the slavery, prostitution and forced servitude of women and children, Blomquist said.
Potter said studying world issues has helped her realize people can make a difference.
“It opens my eyes to see there”s so much out there that needs to be fixed,” she said.
As participants of MUN, the students have to play the part of their country, Blomquist said.
“The representative for the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the representative for Israel wrote a peace resolution,” Blomquist said. “It never passed, but I thought it was cute.”
Blomquist said the students learn how to give public speeches, debate, how to be a politician and cooperation.
The students learned they can make a difference against racism and racial discrimination on a global level from their experiences with MUN, she said.
Cory Leonard, a BYU MUN instructor, said one time high school students were able to influence an actual United Nations resolution, according to Ryan Peel, BYU MUN instructor and third year law student.
In the summer of 2001, a high school MUN team from the Netherlands attended the UN world conference in Durbin, South Africa, which dealt with issues on racism and racial discrimination, Peel said.
The high school students met with delegates from around the world, he said.
While meeting with the Turkish ambassador, a suggestion was made about inserting language concerning youth and sports into the resolution he was proposing.
The ambassador felt this tied in well with the purpose of his resolution and included it, Peel said.
The resolution was then passed by the United Nations, allowing the ideas of the high school students to make a difference on a global level, he said.