Students compete in Contra Costa Model UN

The Model UN Closing Ceremony. (JONATHAN LANCE / CCCOE)
The Model UN Closing Ceremony. (JONATHAN LANCE / CCCOE)

Instead of taking part in their schools’ football games, dances, and other fun weekend activities, 225 Bay Area high school students buckled down this past Friday afternoon and evening, as well as all day Saturday to discuss and provide workable solutions to many of our world’s biggest challenges, at the 26th annual Contra Costa County Model United Nations (UN) Conference, held at Diablo Valley College.

This academic event is produced and directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and coordinated by Kevin Felix Chan, of Best Delegate, along with members of the Model United Nations Club at U.C. Davis. The two-day event enhances high school students’ understanding of the United Nations and its role in global issues. Participating students (delegates) each represent a nation and negotiate on that country’s behalf.

During the conference, delegates debated international issues in 10 committees, including Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), Security Council (UNSC), United Nations Women (UN Women), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Topics discussed included Eradicating Child Labor, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Cybersecurity, The Political Participation of Women, and Reducing Global Food Waste.

Security Council committee meeting at Model UN. (JONATHAN LANCE / CCCOE)
Security Council committee meeting at Model UN. (JONATHAN LANCE / CCCOE)

Bay Area high school teams participating in this year’s Contra Costa County Model UN were Acalanes High (Lafayette), Athenian High (Danville), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), De La Salle High (Concord), Deer Valley High (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), Foothill High (Pleasanton), Lycée de Francais San Francisco (San Francisco), Northgate High (Walnut Creek), Pittsburg High (Pittsburg) and Tilden High (Walnut Creek). Alhambra High School did not participate this year.

This year, Foothill High earned the Best Delegation Award, and Dougherty High was presented with the Outstanding Delegation Award. Numerous individual awards were earned, and will be listed on the Model UN web page in the very near future.

“We are pleased to see so many high school students throughout our county and the Bay Area take advantage of our Model UN program,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata. “Model UN is an excellent opportunity for students to display all the hard work and preparation they have put in, as they successfully discuss, persuade, and work with fellow committee members on real-world problems and complex international relations. The skills they are currently refining with this program will be the same ones they’ll use in college and/or in their future careers.”

This academic event also offers students an opportunity to gain substantive knowledge about the cultures and policies of the countries they represent. They can learn the mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes, while at the same time honing their interpersonal skills. They must practice writing and speaking skills in order to persuade delegates from other attending schools.

Kevin Chan reported that the 34 U.C. Davis Model UN Club volunteers who presided over the Committee Meetings were extremely impressed with their younger brothers and sisters who share a tremendous interest in international affairs, especially since many of the high school students were first-year Model UN participants.

Model UN differs from the CCCOE’s Academic Decathlon and Mock Trial academic-event programs, in that it is not so much a competition as it is an event. Participants are commended for outstanding committee work and certificates are awarded to committee rapporteurs. Individual delegate winners are recognized for their debate skills, leadership skills, knowledge of the issues, and presentation of key resolutions. The event concluded Saturday afternoon with a ceremony that recognized the outstanding delegates.

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