Tracy Roden was in tears of joy the moment her Model United Nations team was announced as the state winners at the High School Model UN Conference last February.
This year’s conference is set for Thursday through Saturday at Georgia Southern University. Roden, the leader of Grovetown High School’s Model UN team, hopes for a repeat of last year’s success, but she and her students will face challenges from 14 other schools from across Georgia.
Even though the conference hasn’t taken place yet, Roden is already proud of her students.
“Last year was the first time in my seven years of being the leader of Model UN that my Model UN team actually won,” she said. “It was really a team effort, and there was not one student that didn’t do their best last year. I’m very proud of the kids, and I believe that they are already doing better than last year’s group.”
Model UN is an academic club that aims to educate participants about current events on a global scale. The conferences simulate a meeting of the UN, with students playing the roles of different countries’ delegations to the UN.
For the students, though, it’s more than just an extracurricular activity.
Winnie Cheng, a 17-year-old senior at Lakeside High School, said it has made her see the world differently.
“In Model UN, you learn a lot about countries and their issues, making you more tolerant of other cultures,” she said.
Charmaine Marshall, a Grovetown senior, said Model UN has benefited her personally, not just academically.
“Before I went on my first conference I was quiet, shy, and scared to speak up for what my country believed in, but my first conference was a learning experience for me,” she said. “Now I am outspoken and willing to express my opinions for the sake of myself and others.”
Chinmaya Sharma, 18, the president and founder of Model UN at Lakeside, said the club has helped shape his future plans.
“Because of Model UN, I have actually started considering international relations as a major when I go off to college,” he said. “I found myself so interested in the topics that I felt as though I could actually make a difference in the future. It’s not just one of those clubs which you participate in just for the sake of it. It’s an incredibly invigorating and educational event.”
Sharma believes the trophy isn’t far from his team’s reach.
“I think for our Model UN team to bring home the traveling trophy, we must get more resolutions accepted in the packet,” he said. “Also, I think all of our delegates must be involved constantly throughout the proceedings. There truly can’t be any laziness or delegates with very little action. With some hard work and perseverance, we can finally bring home that trophy to Lakeside.”
Identical twins Erin and Emily Chizmar, seniors and veterans from last year’s winning Grovetown team, say they will have to work hard to keep the trophy this year. Both plan to continue participating in Model UN at the University of Georgia next fall.
“We want to make a change,” they said together.