An exciting SSUNS experience for both new and experienced Model United Nations students
An impressive 20 students from Branksome attended the virtual Secondary Schools' United Nations Symposium (SSUNS) on November 11-14, hosted by McGill University, participating passionately in committee and debate sessions.
SSUNS takes place each year in November and is the first conference Branksome attends to kick off its Model United Nations (MUN) year. As one of the most prestigious secondary school MUN events in Canada, SSUNS had students from schools across Canada, the USA and the Caribbean in attendance.
Branksome’s 2021 SSUNS team consisted of mainly Grade 9 students—most of whom were new to MUN—who enthusiastically dove into the debate from day one.
“This is very impressive given the very short time our delegates had this year to learn MUN procedure and protocols and to research their countries and topics prior to the conference,” said English teacher Daniel Brownson, who is a Senior MUN Faculty Advisor along with Brendan Narancsik, and they oversee the MUN Club.
“With the help of our Club Heads Miranda and Mare, and our team of mentors led by Cindy and Seungmyoung, students worked hard over the past four weeks to get ready to meet the challenges of a MUN conference,” said Mr. Brownson. “Mr. Narancsik and I were impressed with the level of motivation, enthusiasm and engagement shown by our team.”
At SSUNS, Branksome students represented a variety of countries large and small and participated in committees discussing issues ranging from disarmament and international security, economic issues in Latin America, to global problems of drugs and crime. Some students participated in exciting crisis committees, where they took on the roles of political figures to discuss important historical, present day or future events.
Grade 9 student Mimi was new to MUN, but felt her first time at the event went smoothly.
“I was so scared to put up my hand at first,” said Mimi. “But overall, I think it went really well. It gave me a whole new perspective and now I feel like talking in public is so much easier. I represented Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world and one without a military, and my research was 10 pages long on the topic of disarmament weapons and social technology.” Mimi is enthusiastically looking forward to attending more MUN events in the future.
Grade 12 student Miranda was Branksome’s Head Delegate at SSUNS this year and was awarded the prestigious Lester B. Pearson Award for Peace Making for her leadership and ability to negotiate peaceful solutions in her committee.
“I was assigned the position of Mitch McConnell as part of the 2024 Republican National Convention committee,” said Miranda. “That is a perspective I’d never try to embody in my everyday life, but it was very interesting to see why he had the views he had and how he maintained his power in the Senate for almost 40 years.”
Miranda enjoys the research that goes into attending an MUN event. “I feel that is the spirit of MUN—you do the research and step into the shoes of someone you may never have considered before,” she said. “It has been a very valuable learning experience that allows you to reevaluate your values and why you believe the things you believe and say the things you do.”
When reflecting on the award she was given, Miranda is hopeful that she was one of the people who led her fellow delegates toward common ground and a fruitful solution, while staying true to the spirit of MUN. “The rest of the delegation are on track to get awards, and they all motioned, which is rare in their first conference,” she said. “And, a lot of them got involved in their resolution papers, which is rare for first-time delegates. They are all on a great path."
Miranda is also proud to mentor younger students who are new to MUN this year. “This year, we had a lot of new delegates and it was really fulfilling to teach them,” she said. “It felt like I was passing it on to a new generation, and now they are experienced delegates and they are ready to take that forward. Maybe next year they will be a Head Delegate. It’s very exciting!”
Grade 11 student Seungmyoung, who represented India at SSUNS, earned the Nellie McClung Award for Advocacy for her diplomacy and ability to advocate for herself and others in a skillful and diplomatic way.
“We are very proud of all of our team and the growth we have seen in our MUN program over the past year,” said Mr. Brownson. “With our energetic new club members and motivating and inspiring mentors and club leaders, we are very excited about another successful and eventful year in Branksome MUN.”