It was a weekend of learning and achievement for Branksome Hall Model United Nations delegates (MUN) who attended two virtual conferences, April 24 and 25.
Branksome had 21 delegates virtually attending the 16th annual conference hosted by Appleby College (ACMUN) on April 24, and 13 attended the Southern Ontario Model UN Assembly (SOMA), hosted by the University of Toronto Schools.
At ACMUN, a team of eight delegates came away with two top awards. Grade 9 students Margaux and Thea both won Best Delegate awards in their committees, recognizing the student who is best prepared, most skilled at debate and most knowledgeable about issues discussed. They each received a gavel, the traditional prize.
The topics under investigation were weighty. Margaux worked to find solutions to limit illegal content on social media.
“This conference was an amazing experience and I felt as though I greatly improved in my public speaking, debating and resolution writing skills,” she says, representing France as part of the International Telecommunications Union committee.
Thea, who represented Afghanistan as part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, also had a weighty concern; the opioid crisis was on her agenda.
“It was super fun representing Afghanistan because they are the world's largest opium producer, so they play a big role in the crisis,” she says. “I am a huge extrovert and have no trouble speaking in front of people I don't know, so I think my confidence is what really won me the [Best Delegate] award,” says Thea.
Likewise, Charlotte, who represented Ukranian in her committee, came away with valuable lessons. “Originally, I was a Russian delegate—however, I had to switch to Ukraine at the last minute because there were already two Russian delegates,” says Charlotte. “This experience helped me learn how to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation and think on my feet. I also ended up being a sponsor on a resolution for the first time, which was also a really fun experience that I learned a lot from.”
“We are very proud of all the delegates who took part in ACMUN this year,” says Daniel Brownson, staff adviser and MYP English teacher.
At SOMA, out of a field of more than 400 delegates representing schools from all around North America, Grade 9 student Yara earned the Outstanding Delegate award in her committee, while Grade 11 student Miranda and Grade 9 student Ari won honourable mention awards in their committees.
“Multiple students brought home awards, but with the dedication of each delegate and the support of the head delegates, club heads and supervisor Mr. Brownson, the entire team saw great success at both conferences and represented Branksome with great pride,“ says Miranda.
“It was a really incredible learning experience and I got to hear from so many strong and passionate speakers.”
Undaunted by the scale of the competition, Ari prevailed. “It took a lot of confidence to debate against 30 people on my own, but it ended up being one of the reasons why my chair put me in third place,” she says. “Model UN has given me so many opportunities to grow, and these conferences where I am competing against delegates two or more years older allow me to learn and improve my skills. I learned that doing the extreme and unexpected may be the one thing that puts you over the top.”
These awards are quite an accomplishment, notes Brownson, as SOMA is a very competitive MUN conference with committees of about 30 delegates each.
“I do think we were one of the top five teams at the conference in terms of our performance and number of awards,” he says. “I was extremely proud of how confidently our students speak when addressing their committees. We have such a strong group right now and I am really excited about what we will be able to do next year!”