Grace Kraimer and other Model UN students are learning more than just the curriculum

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Krystal Koski, Staff Writer

Having opinions can be terrifying. The idea of sharing one’s thoughts with the rest of the world and the ghastly prospect of being judged for having an independent viewpoint is straight up intimidating. Luckily, the Model United Nations class offered at FHC prepares students to properly and maturely share their opinions, and senior Grace Kraimer has taken advantage of that opportunity.

Grace enrolled in Model UN (often referred to as MUN) her junior year and decided to continue taking it during her final year at FHC. While nothing in particular inspired Grace to select MUN as a course, it was something she had heard about and was interested in. Although Grace didn’t know an extensive amount about MUN at first, she has become well-educated on all-things MUN, not to mention some life lessons to accompany her newfound knowledge.

“The reason [Model UN] is important to me is because it forces kids to learn how to use their words,” Grace said. “Basically, what Model UN is about is putting kids in a situation where they have to act as people that are on very different sides of a spectrum, and use their words to meet somewhere in the middle and find a resolution to a conflict. I think it’s so crucial that you have to use your words and get together with people that you don’t necessarily agree with, instead of just fighting them.”

Learning to use words to hold a civilized conversation is an important aspect of MUN; however, it is not the only lesson learned over the course of a semester. According to MUN advisor Christopher McClees, there are considerable numbers of life-lessons that can be absorbed while enrolled in the class, then later applied to everyday life.

“For many [students], they’re working towards gaining some self-confidence in public speaking,” McClees said. “Being able to get up in front of a room and not only speak, but then have to answer some very difficult, very sharp questions, sometimes very mean-spirited questions, and being able to handle that on the fly and to be able to think fast on their feet. Having that ability is important in everyday life. I think that the kids recognize that; that’s one good thing about the class; [students] have plenty of training in [handling situations on their feet].”

In order to be able to handle high-pressure situations, students in MUN need to be well-educated on current world events. While staying informed on worldwide events may not seem like a daunting task, there is some difficulty to keeping track of everything occurring in the world. That being said, there are major benefits to being informed on the state of other countries and people across the globe.

“I love being in Model UN season, because I’m really up-to-date with what’s going on in the world,” Grace said. “In that respect, Model UN is phenomenal because you have that hour to listen to what people are saying that you might normally defer to or might just accept adults or parents or something. You can stick up for voices that are contradictory to what they’re saying, or situations like that.”

Being informed is key to being successful in MUN, but so is being able to formulate independent opinions on events occurring in the real world. Even with the intimidating possibilities of being disagreed with or disliked for an opinion, MUN provides a safe space for sharing opinions in a very mature manner.

“We can talk about sensitive issues [in Model UN] that you can’t necessarily talk about in other classes,” Grace said. “Sometimes, just to practice our debate, we have to talk about sensitive issues like abortion or gun control, and it’s really something I adore about the class. Somebody can voice their opinion that might be not the majority of the rest of the class, and people will have to accept it. You have to accept the fact that they have their opinion, you have yours, and that’s okay. The relationships are surprisingly amiable considering the fact that you are discussing things that are very personal for people.”

Sharing opinions on mature subject-matter could normally lead to some animosity between students with contradictory thoughts, yet the relationships between MUN students are cordial. Junior Megan Tiggleman, another MUN student, has observed this phenomenon in addition to the other unique characteristics Model UN has to offer students.

“Everyone’s voice is heard, which is really nice,” Megan said. “We try to keep the subject matters on important news that we can all be able to discuss cohesively. Overall, it is a good experience. Everyone gets along well and we always have a lot of fun at conferences.”

The uniqueness of MUN is apparent through a variety of different aspects. Whether that be on a more basic level, such as staying informed and looking through biases on media sources, or taking skills absorbed during the semester and applying them to daily life, such as using conversation as a way to reach a solution, or improving public speech skills. No matter how it is spun, MUN is a course where students can comprehend infinite amounts of knowledge.

“There’s no other course in this building, that I’ve seen, that makes you do intensive research to support a position that’s not necessarily your own,” Grace said. “You aren’t really researching what’s right and wrong, either. Opinions are opinions. Different countries do what different countries do. There’s not really a right or wrong in there, and I think that’s very unique from other classes that are offered [at FHC].”