CHAMPLAIN - The minds of students from across the region came together recently as a means to promote change and tackle the world's toughest problems.
High school students from around the area recently ventured to Boston, Mass., to take part in a Model United Nations Conference there. The assembly of students marked the 56th session of the prestigious conference - held Dec. 11-15 and administered by Harvard University. The Model United Nations Conference is attended by top students around the globe. Participating locally were young scholars from Beekmantown, Chazy, Northeastern Clinton, Elizabethtown-Lewis central school districts and Franklin Academy. The conference, held at the Sheraton Hotel and in Harvard Square, is the largest and most renowned in the nation.
The philosophy of Harvard National Model United Nations serves to host a setting where students can "meet to discuss the greatest challenges facing the world today, in fields ranging from international peace and security to economic and social progress and human rights. In this spirit, the goal of HNMUN is to begin a process whereby constructive debate today can lead to solutions tomorrow. HNMUN strives to ensure that the committees we offer provide an educational and comprehensive look at a diverse range of pressing issues."
For four days, each participating student is transformed into a delegate of a particular nation and is called upon to rise up, to meet the challenges presented by problems that plague the world. These high school delegates quickly learn to see through the biased views, which so often flaunt around on the global stage, and observe a bigger picture.
"When you're representing a 'Cuba', or in past years a 'Soviet Union,' or any of those countries that might be more likely to be critical of the United States, it gives you a chance to evaluate what your own country is doing," said history teacher Harry McManus. "I think it is important for students not only to see an American view - which they get in all their classes - but to also see a broader view, a more world view of it. I think it gives them a broader perspective."
NCCS - the first school from the North Country to attend Harvard's Model United Nations-sent more than 20 students on the trip to Boston. The school started the trip in the 1970s with $500 dollars, a handful of ambitious students, and a helping hand from McManus, who is still involved in the program today. McManus, along with advisors Kate Dermody and Karen Jones, believes the experience enhances those who attend.
"You see other kids like you'll see in your freshman year [at college] and you're not as intimidated by them because you've seen them before in action. All of a sudden you are with people who are highly motivated in history, and international relations and you've had a chance to deal with them in high school," added McManus.
Harvard University's motto is VE RI TAS; a Latin phrase meaning "truth." The program is credited for exemplifying its mottos by seeking to inform its more than 2,000 participants about what is truly happening in the world. Students seek to face these truths in the present day, no matter how blunt, or widespread these truths turn out to be, so they can become the future leaders of the world.
Andrew Matott is a student correspondent from Northeastern Clinton Central School.