High school students learn that it’s a small world delegates tackle global issues at Ga. U.N. assembly
As it turns out, it is a small world after all. Seven students from Morgan County High School (MCHS) discovered truth in that maxim the weekend of Feb. 19-21 when they went to Atlanta for the Georgia United Nations Assembly (GUNA).
GUNA is an annual event sponsored by the state Y-Club that simulates the actual debate and diplomacy of United Nations ambassadors. Students choose a country to represent and work to present a resolution on behalf of that nation that would benefit other countries on a global scale.
Laura Margaret Burbach earned the title of "Outstanding Female Delegate" and Jack LeClair earned "Outstanding Male Delegate" and "Best Resolution" for their resolutions on a Pacific trade treaty among developing nations in the Pacific and a bill on deforestation in Brazil.
Burbach said her proposal would lower trade tariffs and create an incentive for America to trade with countries along the Pacific Coast so to develop trading partners with China.
Burbach said the structure of negotiations mimicked that of the U.N. Security Council, with some countries carrying a veto vote.
“When you’re really getting up there debating about your own bill, you just get to express your ideals and how you feel about it, and, of course, the hope is to get other people to believe the same way as you,” she said.
Burbach said she is more of a rebuttal debater. She specializes in spotting shortcomings in the resolutions of other nations and, with the help of laptops and iPads at hand, her team pounces on correcting mistakes. It should be noted, though, that civility is expected among debaters and the use of respectful language prevails within the rules of diplomacy.
“They take it seriously,” said Advisor Jennifer Eberhart. “If an adult were to wander in and sit to observe for awhile, they might find that these kids understand the mission of the U.N., and they understand how to evaluate resolutions and proposals.”
In addition to the debates, students work to create a global village display that represents the culture, history and political system of an array of nations. Some students like Jessica Bailey, whose father works for a subsidiary of a South Korean company, also dress in native clothing.
Students even incorporated social networking in their presentations by Tweeting updates throughout the weekend. Though GUNA provides only a simulation of international politics, Twitter makes global connectivity very real and present in these students’ lives. It is a small world, after all.
Who Represented What Country?
Laura Margaret Burbach (China)
Jack LeClair (Brazil)
Ryan McSherry (Presided over Security Council)
Brayden Hutcheson (South Korea)
Jessica Bailey (South Korea)
Claire Vinson (Argentina)
Hannah Simpson (Argentina)
Printed in the March 8, 2012 edition