The great thing about these rich learning experiences is the students are often gaining these new skills and knowledge without realizing it because of how much fun they are having!
For MUN, the first skills to be engaged by students are those of information literacy and critical thinking. Before a conference even begins, the students need to do in-depth research into their assigned country, its relations with other nations, and the topic that will be debated within the committee.
While the new knowledge gained in this process can be valuable, the real value comes from the students applying the skills of research learned and practiced in the classroom in a new context, more closely aligned with a real-world experience.
Armed with the fruits of their own research, the students are then ready to attend the conference itself. There is an electric nervous energy on the first day, as students prepare to give an opening speech that outlines their country's position on the topic in just one minute.
It takes significant skills of communication to sum up a policy position confidently and accurately in such a short amount of time, and it sees the students transfer skills from several different subjects such as Language and Literature and Individuals and Societies to make a speech that is both factual and engaging.
What happens next is in my opinion one of the most valuable learning opportunities in a conference. After opening speeches, students circulate around the room, and form ad hoc teams to craft a resolution on the topic of debate. To be successful, the students must engage their skills of communication and collaboration to build a strong team of fellow delegates, many of which they are meeting for the very first time.
It is this newly formed team that needs to create a solution, defend it, and ultimately convince others to vote in support of it. Even as adults in the workplace, it can be hard to get a newly formed team to perform under pressure, but time and again our students at MUN conferences show great skill in managing this difficult process.
The most amazing part of all is that even after a weekend of learning and applying skills, students are always asking for more. Without fail, at the end of every conference students want to know when the next one will be!
For many NISC students, that next opportunity to attend an MUN conference will be our very own conference which we will host in March 2024. While we have held an annual MUN conference at NISC for several years now, this one is special as we will be hosting the Nord Anglia regional conference for Southeast Asia, Middle East and Indian schools.
Our students will have the chance to make new connections with NAE students from around the region, and I can’t wait to see the exciting solutions to global issues that they come up with together. Sign-ups for delegates have already started, and I look forward to seeing many of our NISC students participating in the conference with skill and passion.