The Model United Nations winter conference was held at Edina High School. It was Edina’s first time hosting a conference and the entirely student-run event was incredibly well-organized and professional. The conference focused on the rights of indigenous people around the world and our students were able to bring some of their own perspectives from their home countries to our research efforts on countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia, and the U.S. Our students represented the countries of Kenya (Hector), Sri Lanka (Jose and Josue), Saudi Arabia (Jose and Christoph), Ecuador (Grace and Phoebe), Indonesia (Tanisa and Daniel), and the U.S.A (Nelofar and Lam).
The Opening Ceremony was introduced by the principal of Edina High School and featured the Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey and Senator Al Franken each giving speeches to open the conference. Al Franken’s speech was particularly interesting and pointed, talking about his first pow wow and his commitment to addressing the grievous social issues that face Native American people today as a member of the Indian Affairs committee in the U.S. Senate.
The opening hour of the conference consisted of formal debate and moderated caucus where discussion revolved around which aspects of indigenous rights should be addressed first: education, political participation, socio-economic aid, or cultural legitimation. Disagreements grew through the morning as delegates continued posturing for their interests, highlighting a particular disagreement on the priority of education and bilingualism in this issue. Integration versus assimilation was often debated and puzzled over; students struggled to figure out how to offer solutions for addressing problems among indigenous populations without violating their right to self determination. After lunch, the committee focused on improving their resolutions and prepared to compel other delegates to vote in their favor. Sri Lanka sponsored draft resolution 3 which passed 37 to 32. This resolution attempted to address issues concerning education.
SPP students enjoyed being able to work with other students from Edina, Maple Grove, Cretin Durham Hall, and other schools in unmoderated caucus. They were able to offer their unique, culturally relativistic perspective to a debate that clearly highlighted the difficulty in identifying solutions, that both provided equal opportunity to indigenous people and honored their cultural values.
The club will participate in their final conference at Hamline University on March 12, serving in three committees addressing development and poverty.
Kara Redding – Model UN Advisor, Social Studies Teacher
The Model United Nations club is one of many clubs and extracurricular activities available to St. Paul Preparatory School’s students. Learn more about student life and clubs at St. Paul Prep.