The Great Bend High School Forensics team attended the Wichita Area Model UN held in the Rhatigan Student Center at Wichita State University this past Friday, Jan. 20.
The group of 12 students returned with three awards. Senior Maddix Pokorski received the Outstanding Delegate Award. Honorable Mention Delegate Awards were presented to seniors Eave Taylor and Alondra Alvarez for their work pushing for compromise during the conference.
The GBHS students wrote position papers for their assigned countries, and worked to build consensus for resolutions with other delegations at the mock General Assemblies of the United Nations.
According to senior Xanna Smith, preparation for the conference was “extremely nerve-wracking at first because this was the first in-person conference the team has attended since 2019, and only the seniors had any memory of how the conference would actually work. The challenge was trying to communicate with a big group all at once in order to get a say in what happens.”
The students also had the opportunity to explore and discuss global issues and solutions to further make the world a better place.
“We basically spoke about the issues of nuclear disarmament, climate change and human rights in a way that represented the nations we were assigned like the Philippines or Morocco,” freshman Zachary Hart said. “We had to give that nation’s perspective on world issues and work to solve them.”
Not only did Model UN provide students with the opportunity to discuss politics, it provided an interactive environment for students across the area. The conference also gave the students invaluable confidence in public speaking and fostered leadership skills.
“Personally, being in Model UN forced me to come out of my shell,” sophomore Ailey Williams said. “At first, it was difficult to find people to speak to since I was nervous. But after the first session it was easier to speak to other countries.”
The students learned many lessons beyond public speaking.
“I liked meeting new people and getting to create solutions to problems that are relevant today. When we were in the conference room, debating and writing documents, that’s when it actually felt like we could make a meaningful impact,” Alvarez said. “I also learned that it takes a lot to reach a consensus but that it is acceptable to compromise. ”
Additionally, Model UN can also help students with the college admittance process and scholarship applications.
“Colleges know that it is a team activity that requires collaboration and research. If you are willing to work to solve problems, you are likely to be successful in college,” forensics coach Kim Heath said. “Our young people have unique and interesting ideas that deserve to be heard.”
The GBHS Forensic team has a wide variety of goals for the season. On the team there are 35 Panthers who are all looking for opportunities to speak and perform in different ways. They will open their regular season with a tournament in Pratt this Saturday, January 28.