OU Model United Nations Conference

A few weeks ago, OU’s Model United Nations club presided over their annual High School Conference. We invited various high schools from the area to participate in our simulation, which included a Security Council, and three General Assembly Committees devoted to Disarmament, Economics, and Human Rights. I was able to participate as a rapporteur for GA 1, which was the Disarmament (and Cyber Security) committee. Essentially, I was responsible for formatting the students’ resolution, roll call, passing notes, vote counting, and anything else the Chair needed me to do. The first day of the conference I played a relatively small part. We were almost fully staffed, so I mainly passed notes and helped with some formatting. Later on, though, classes got in the way and I ended up becoming the Vice Chair of GA 1, for all intents and purposes. It was a little nerve-wracking, since I haven’t participated in a Model UN event before. I always wanted to, but unfortunately my high school did not have a team. Because of this, I was really excited to finally get to join in college, and the conference proved to be a crash-course in Model UN procedure and etiquette. I learned about speeches and vote requirements, and it was really interesting to see all the high schoolers interact. While some were not necessarily “in-character,” a lot were, and it was fun to see how they perceived their country’s stances on issues as pressing as security and nuclear weapons. Our committee did run into some hiccups, though. Before the conference, each committee was assigned two topics that they would debate throughout the two days. GA 1 was given Cyber Security and Disarmament. However, our students powered through their topics, so on the last day we were stuck with nothing to talk about. The Chair and I tried to open up some of the previous topics, but the students were not into it. Eventually, we had to come up with a third topic that they could debate, so they weren’t spending all day in pointless caucuses. After their new topic was given, something dealing with espionage, the committee smoothed out and the students were able to really get involved again.

Forum at the college of continuing education

Over all, the High School Conference was a great experience! I even got to be the Chair for a little bit—which was a little scary, but a lot of fun! It really makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger, that you are part of a global community. What I think is most important about it, though, is that it fosters understanding. Those kids were required to learn about their countries, to understand and become them. If everyone was able to see situations and problems from someone else’s point of view, I think a lot of our problems would become easier to solve.

Model United Nations Southwest logo

The Volunteering Debate

I agreed with some of Peter Singer’s arguments, however, I believed some of them were flawed. He said that you should donate to a charity that will do the most good—essentially break the charity down to numbers and figures. But where is the heart in that? We should not donate because we feel obligated, that is not doing it for the right reasons. We should donate because we want to help and because we feel a connection to the charity or cause. We should donate because we want to, not because someone is guilting us into it. Although, I do agree with his emphasis on donating to international charities. They are easy to over look and forget about. After all, we can’t actually see the people in those countries suffering. That said, we can’t ignore what is happening domestically either. Children in America still starve. Some American adults are not literate. America has problems that need our help, too. So, I would combine Singer’s ideas with some of the arguments we read about volunteer tourism. In the articles discussing “voluntourism,” I learned that going abroad for two weeks to volunteer might do more harm than good. Often times, you disrupt the people’s daily routine, causing them even more problems. Also, two or three weeks do not make a huge difference in the long run. Because of this, when international charity is concerned, I would side with Singer. Look for a charity that can do the most good abroad with the money you give. However, I would volunteer my time locally. If you volunteer in your community, you can create those bonds that are so important to the success of the program. You also become more skilled, so you won’t be disrupting anyone’s work. You could volunteer countless hours to the local charity and really make a difference. Likewise, the money you send overseas could save, potentially, thousands of lives. While Singer’s argument has its merits, I believe it could have gone a little farther to include more local volunteering or donating options.

Inspired by: Peter Singer’s “The Why and How of Effective Altruism” (Click the picture to see his TED Talk)