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World Food Crisis Is Focus of Marshall High's Model UN Training Conference

Marshall High School’s 10th annual My First Model United Nations (Model UN) training conference will provide high school and middle school students with the opportunity to debate solutions to the world food crisis. The conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Marshall High School is a Fairfax County public school.

Online registration for the October 19 conference is now open. The school registration fee is $40 and the delegate fee is $30 per student, including lunch and all conference materials. A background guide on the world food crisis, written by Marshall High School students Brian Hernandez and Spencer Gilbert, will be provided to registered schools in mid-September. Because registration is limited to 250 students, schools with Model UN Clubs are encouraged to register early.

By focusing on the world food crisis, the delegates will be dealing with one of the UN’s principal millennium development goals that seek to end world hunger. In recent years, the global food crisis has increased in urgency as food prices have shown increases in volatility and undeveloped nations and donor organizations have encountered political and economic barriers to overcoming food shortages and implementing long-term solutions.

In hosting the conference, Marshall’s Model UN Club will once again partner with the University of Virginia’s (U.Va.) International Relations Organization (IRO) to present the one-day training conference for students interested in Model UN, an extracurricular activity at a growing number of Washington, D.C., area schools. The conference is open to high school and middle school students interested in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda. It is designed to introduce the students to the essential skills of diplomacy, advanced Internet research, the writing of position papers and resolutions, and public speaking.

"Model UN is not only an activity that introduces students to multifaceted global issues, but also one that fosters critical thinking, debating and public speaking skills, and the ability to compromise,” said Kate Kingsbury, secretary-general of the U.Va. IRO. “Model UN delegates don't only read about the issues from textbooks and news articles, they debate them in real time during a Model UN simulation.”

The daylong, hands-on training conference will include a morning session on advanced Internet research, public speaking and how to write position papers and UN resolutions. These essential skills will be taught by teachers from Marshall High School’s social studies department and outside experts. The afternoon session will be devoted to small group sessions chaired by college students from the U.Va. IRO. In those sessions, students will represent some of the 193 nations in the UN. The students will get a chance to present their respective positions on issues associated with the world food crisis while practicing their research, writing and speaking skills learned that morning.

Since its inception in 2003, My First Model UN has trained more than 2,500 high school and middle school students in the essential skills needed in Model UN. Several high schools in Fairfax County, including Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Centreville High School, Langley High School, and Chantilly High School are planning weekend Model UN conferences during the school year, as are universities in the area including the U.Va. IRO, which will host a Model UN conference in Charlottesville November 8-10.

Note: Marshall High School is located at 7731 Leesburg Pike in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County. For more information on conference registration, contact Marshall High School Model UN Club faculty co-sponsor Ilsa Tinkelman at imtinkelman@fcps.edu. For additional information about the conference, contact faculty sponsor Tom Brannan at jtbrannan@fcps.edu. For student interviews, contact secretary-general Taruni Paleru at tarunipaleru@gmail.com or deputy secretary-general Sam Carpenter at Fleanx04@gmail.com.