Published in The Hebrew Watchman on December 6, 2018
Bornblum Jewish Community School, under the leadership of teacher and debate coach Charleen Davis, participated in its first ever Model UN experience on November 28, 2018.
Part of the Y.M.C.A.’s Civic Engagement Program, Model UN gives 225 area students a window into the United Nations process and how countries work together on problems facing the global community or specific countries.
This fall during their debate elective, Bornblum’s Model UN delegation researched various countries and considered the problems they wanted to address through a resolution. This included reviewing a wide variety of information from sources like the C.I.A. World Fact Book where they found maps and a deep analysis of things like geography, social issues, gross domestic product and imports and exports.
Bornblum participants worked in two delegations. The Chinese delegation consisted of 8th grader Gabriel Paz, seventh grader Yaron Weiss, and sixth graders Jacob Attias and Adam Epstein. This team identified a serious problem with oral health and dental hygiene in China, learning that only 2 percent of the population uses toothpaste. In response they proposed a resolution creating education, marketing campaigns and providing subsidies for dental health services and products, including toothpaste.
Bornblum’s other delegation was Argentina, consisting of sixth graders Sofia Frisch and Bethany Roberts with research support from eighth grader Ethan Evans and sixth graders Abie Friedman and Ethan VanderWalde. Their resolution was to create hydro-electric infrastructure to serve Argentina’s 1.5 million residents who have no electricity and to offer the program as a pilot to help other developing countries.
After completing four weeks of research and submitting their resolutions, the Bornblum delegations attended the day-long Model UN assembly in downtown Memphis. There, students presented their resolutions and debated resolutions proposed by the the other delegations, all in strict compliance with Roberts Rules of Order. For example during the technical question period, students were limited to responding with a yes, no, number, definition or short, non-persuasive answer.
Seventh grader, Yaron Weiss won a Best Delegate award based on his innovation and staying in character. According to Weiss, “It was fun being able to communicate with students from other schools and it was fun learning about the issues in other countries. ”
Reflecting on the experience, Miss Davis said, “Yesterday was one of the best days I have had as a teacher. The students and I loved the protocols and procedures and the interactive nature of the work! They had a glimpse of what international affairs looks like on a needs level that they will never forget. Model UN, I think, gave them a true sense of being a citizen of the world.”