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Nanaimo students need help getting to Model UN

Some politically minded Nanaimo students are eager to debate world issues and propose solutions to global problems this February, but need some help to do so.

Eleven Nanaimo District Secondary School students have signed on to participate in the Vancouver Model United Nations Feb. 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

The catch is the first day of the conference takes place during a district-wide in-service day, which all Nanaimo school district staff are required to attend, and so the delegation could not be sponsored by the school, as this requires the presence of a district staff member.

The students solved this problem by getting special permission to form a non-school delegation and are taking along parent chaperones instead of teachers.

But because the delegation cannot be affiliated with the district due to the in-service, the students will miss out on some assistance from the school’s parent advisory council and fundraising opportunities through the school, said Jake Mitton, a Grade 11 student.

The delegation is looking for support from the community to help cover the costs – about $450 per person with conference registration fees, food, transportation and lodging for the weekend.

“It’s one of the largest [model UNs] in Western Canada,” said Mitton. “It’s all student-run with more than 1,000 delegates. It’s supposed to be an incredible experience, so we’re all really excited.”

A model United Nations is an academic simulation of the real UN – participants role-play as diplomats representing a country or non-governmental organization on a UN committee.

There are 16 committees in this model UN and the keynote speaker for the event is Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian senator, humanitarian, author and retired general.

Participants must research their country’s policies and opinions on topics debated at the committee, prepare a position paper on those topics, and be ready to respond on behalf of their country while the committee is in session.

“It’s all quite fast-paced,” said Mitton, who got his first taste of what a model UN is all about at one Vancouver Island University hosted in 2011.

“It’s pretty cool knowing you’re doing what political leaders in [UN headquarters in New York] are doing.”

To help, please contact Kathy McDougall, one of the volunteer parent chaperones, at 250-714-5522 or e-mail kathy.mcdougall@shaw.ca.

For more information on the Vancouver Model UN, please go to www.vmun.com.

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