Model United Nations and Model Congress are difficult things to understand until you see it in person. When your child comes home and talks about a life-changing experience, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement… but when you ask exactly what happened, the description might not make any sense. The response often sounds like “We brought peace to the Middle East” or “We fixed Social Security”. That sounds great, but what does it really mean?
During a Model United Nations or Model Congress conference, your child will assume the role of a government official – whether a United States Senator, a United Nations Delegate, or a Head of State – and works to address pressing global and domestic issues. Over the course of a single day or even a four-day conference experience, your child will be immersed in topics like Global Climate Change and its Effect of Global Security, Microlending, or even Empowering Women. They’ll be asked to research their position, present solutions, and work with their colleagues in the room to bring about innovative solutions.
The Model United Nations and Model Congress experience can last one or a few days, or it can change your child’s professional trajectory. Having run these programs for more than 20 years, IDIA has a great deal of anecdotal proof of our concept – that anyone, if given the proper tools and experience, can bring about positive social change. Our attendees are empowered to bring about change in their communities, whether that’s their hometown, or their global community, in meaningful, deliberative, and collaborative ways. Some participants have merely learned about something not discussed in their classroom – they’ve moved past the idea that African childen have to walk 10 miles to school each day. Others have started new clubs and organizations in their schools calling attention to issues like the war in Sudan or genocide in the Balkans. Perhaps the most compelling stories we hear are the ones where our former participants choose their college major based on a Model UN experience, they join the United States Foreign Service to start a career as a diplomat, or the one we’re most proud of, they have entered the field of education.
IDIA staff is made up of undergraduate students that were so moved by their Model UN experience that they wanted to bring it to others. They have become active members of their community and they recognize the importance of getting involved in their own communities. We spend an entire year putting together each of our conferences, and our staff is tirelessly trained to ensure that all participants, regardless their experience or knowledge level have the opportunity to develop new skills and interests in the topics being discussed. Our students are encouraged to develop their own goals, and to work in concert with our conference staff to achieve those goals.
So when your child returns home and tells you that they solved all the world’s problems, ask them the deeper questions. Push them on their ideas and opinions, and recognize their development of critical life skills like research, information synthesis, diplomacy, consensus building, and public speaking. Then ask them what they’re going to do with it…. the answer to that question is the one that matters the most.