By Jon Parton
This year’s Metro Kansas City Model United Nations (MKCMUN) took place on April 15 2015.. Originally started three decades ago, the MKCMUN has grown to be one of the largest in the state of Kansas.
The event, held at Johnson County Community College (JCCC), has been organized by Dr. Brian Wright, professor of Political Science at JCCC, since 2003. The conference was not always so popular, according to Wright.
“We’ve gone through ebbs and flows,” Wright said. “But this [year] is one of the biggest conferences. We’re happy to have so many students this year. We have about 250 students this year and we were anticipating about 200.”
Liberty High School in Liberty, Mo. has participated in the MKCMUN for the last nine years, according to Ellen Meade, adviser to the Liberty High School team.
Students get a chance to build lifelong public speaking and writing skills, according to Meade.
“They learn to talk to people,” Meade said. “They learn how to build consensus. They learn how to work with other people. It’s not just debating, trying to win something. They learn how to find common ground on issues and I love that they talk about real issues in our world.”
An important thing students get out of the conference is the ability to think critically, said Kurt Gates, adviser to the Liberty North High School team.
“Most people, they’re able to see things from the United States or western perspective,” Gates said. “But when you start looking at some of these issues and see it from the developing world or seeing it from the perspective of a country in the Middle East, you’re able to get a much better world view of how these problems affect millions of people.”
Research of the issues is the most important part of preparing for any Model UN conference, according to Gates.
“Once they [students] get the background guide, that serves as a springboard for further research,” Gates said. “They look in depth at that topic from their country’s perspective on how that issue affects their country.”
Students that get their start at the MKCMUN often go on to bigger conferences, Wright said.
“We also have students that go on to prestigious schools,” Wright said. “They’ve also gone on to get pretty good jobs in the area. One student in particular now works for GM. GM’s largest customers are in Latin America and Brazil and he happened to be on the Latin American Development Bank when the JCCC team went to Washington DC. He was the only one they interviewed that knew anything about Latin America.”
Liberty High School received a total of 18 awards, including Overall Outstanding Delegation.
Liberty North High School also received 18 awards, also winning Overall Outstanding Delegation.
Rockhurst High School took home 5 awards, including Distinguished Delegation.
Harrisonville Middle School received Honorable Mention for their portrayal of New Zealand in General Assembly First Committee.
Shawnee Mission West received Honorable Mention for their team’s portrayal of Germany in the Security Council.
Hickman Mills High School (Kansas City Missouri) took home 3 awards, including Distinguished Delegation.
Blue Valley Northwest High School (Overland Park, KS) received Honorable Mention for their portrayal of the United States in ECOSOC.
Marian High School (Omaha, NE) received two Outstanding Position Paper awards in their representation of Venezuela.
Notre Dame De Sion (Kansas City MO) received two awards for Distinguished Delegation.
Sunrise School (Bel Aire, KS) , Ruskin High School (Kansas City, MO) and Sumner Academy (Kansas City, KS) each received an award as well.
JCCC Model UN students volunteered at the event, serving as chairs and rapporteurs. Joseph Gideon, JCCC student, said he was enthused to be at the conference.
“It’s inspiring to see such interpersonal communication from such young people,” Gideon said.
JCCC students: Allie Owens, (Olathe, KS), Tyler Swaggerty (Lawrence, KS ) Daniel Crist (Overland Park, KS), Aaron Haffey (Overland Park, KS), Jon Parton (Overland Park, KS), Joseph Gideon, Cooper Clark (Overland Park, KS), Ian Sneid (Leawood, KS) Mayra Daniela Romero Ferman was the Secretary General (Kansas City, Kansas), Kaitlyn Sylva (Gardner, KS), Joy Lee (Daejeon, South Korea), Linda Makau (Nairobi Kenya), and Dr. Brian Wright (team advisor, Warrensburg, MO)