Model UN participants Tyson Burrows

Belmont students learn the virtues of diplomacy

For the members of Belmont secondary school’s Model United Nations team, it’s international political business as usual.

Russia and the United States nearly declaring war seems a rare day in high school.

But for the members of Belmont secondary school’s Model United Nations team, it’s international political business as usual.

In Model UN, students get together to act as a mock United Nations, complete with a General Assembly, Security Council and various committees and non-governmental organizations. Each student represents a country and sets out to learn his or her nation’s history and political positions in order to accurately portray it.

“The intent is to help us better understand how international relations work and how the UN gets stuff done in the real world,” said Dylan Karlsson, Grade 11. “It gives us a better understanding of problem solving and debating.”

A series of topics are debated at the Model UN and students have the opportunity to get together and put forward resolutions, which are in turn debated and either accepted or rejected by the assembly.

The Belmont students most recent event was VicMUN, held at the University of Victoria earlier this month. Karlsson represented Canada, while peers Emily Crowley and Tyson Burrows, both in Grade 12, represented Kazakhstan and Venezula, respectively.

The general theme was War, Famine, Death and Disease, and debates touched on economic stability in developing nations, microcredit and economic and trade prices addressing food volatility.

Burrows was instrumental in getting a resolution passed on the topic of food price volatility. He wrote the resolution paper, which was developed in order to combat Russia’s resolution paper, which took a controversial stance on the issue.

“It gets pretty heated, there’s a lot of slanderous comments that come out,” Burrows said. “I called the U.S.A. out on being corrupt and a terrorist organization.”

It was the same event where Russia and the U.S. nearly came to blows, though such actions are outside the realm of the UN, let alone the Model UN.

At the same session, Karlsson won an award for Most Diplomatic Delegate for the General Assembly.

“Which is funny because I’m not diplomatic in real life,” Karlsson said. “I tried to play the part correctly.”

Teacher and coach Evelyn Amado said she enjoys seeing the change in students as they take part in more events.

“The level of confidence that these kids are developing … is tremendous, it’s absolutely amazing,” she said.

All say one of the best things about the sessions is making new friends and getting together with people they’ve come to know through the events.

“You get to know them as people, not just as representatives as nations,” Karlsson said.

“They’re really great people that get together to do some really cool stuff.”

“Before Model UN, I was never interested in politics,” Crowley said.

“I basically abhorred political everything. But now that I’m involved in Model UN and debate and getting to see the foreign relations side of the politics, I find that very interesting.”

The students will head to a number events in 2014, including volunteering at an event at the University of British Columbia in January and taking part in a B.C.-wide event.