Sat | Dec 15, 2018

UN clubs great benefit to the world, students believe ...Upcoming UN Model Assembly to discuss human trafficking

Published:Friday | October 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Bruno Pouezat (left), United Nations Resident Coordinator, listens as Floyd Green (second right), Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, speaks with students Shanae Sewell (second left) and Accalia Plummer (right) during United Nations Day held at The Alfred Sangster Auditorium, University of Technology on Wednesday.

Two female secondary school students who have credited their school's long-established United Nations (UN) club for their strong social awareness skills and dynamism are calling for Model UN to be set up in every high school.

The schoolgirls, who, on Wednesday, presented on Jamaica's Model UN to mark UN Day 2018, held at the University of Technology, argued that the club not only provides youngsters with an avenue to voice and defend their viewpoint on both international and local issues, but it is also a big contributor to the development of the whole person.

"'Think globally, act locally' is a guiding statement for the UN and also for me, and it has seen me broaden my scope and understanding of issues across the globe and, in turn, shaped my actions to be more effective. And I'm sure it can certainly do the same for students in other schools," Shanae Sewell, an upper sixth-former at Vere Technical High School, told The Gleaner.

Sewell, who, by her own admission, was a shy, reserved girl some years ago, also contended that the club moulded her into an outspoken, confident leader.

The 18-year-old has since travelled to the International Model United Nations conference on three occasions - from 2015-2018 - and is now the head prefect in her grade.

"I recall being so shy before taking on an active role in the club," said the senior student.

"Now, I can stand up and debate any point or go on a stage in front of hundreds of people and do a presentation. Our club currently has 60 members and is growing steadily as students are recognising the advantages to be gained from it. It teaches diplomacy, international relations, public speaking skills - a lot of skills that will serve you long after high school. So I fully encourage other schools to take note and set up a UN," added Sewell, who holds ambitions of becoming the first black UN president.

Well-spoken 15-year-old Accalia Plummer, an Ardenne High School fourth-former, pointed out that her school's United Nations (UN) Club has over 150 active members and was easily one of the more popular clubs.

"I've always believed that students should be involved in clubs and societies, especially clubs such as this, which is a model of a global organisation that has been a great benefit to our world," she reasoned.

"In today's society, you have to be able to effectively champion your opinion, and this platform has afforded that to me and many others. It also teaches independence, diligence, consideration to issues outside of your own - a whole array of skills that will never leave you. I recommend it to all high school students and probably even younger. The earlier you're exposed, the better," added Plummer, who is also optimistic about serving the UN in the future.

There are roughly 25 active UN clubs locally and an invitation was extended to an additional 40 high schools in September.

The issue of human trafficking is to be discussed at the upcoming UN Model Assembly, to be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston in November.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com