LIVINGSTON, NJ – On Feb1, students of Heritage Middle School’s Junior Model United Nations team stunned the judge’s panel to win “Best Delegation” in the 2013 Regional Competition hosted at Seton Hall University.

After spending the first half of the school year being immersed in a holistic study of Tunisia, Heritage Middle School students T.Y.Z., M.Q.,, Zehao “Howie” Shen, Json Grant, Jacob “Jack” Wheeler, Julia Keymakh, Amanda Stephenson, Matthew Park, and Ilana Goldin composed a Resolution document addressing the topic of Global Education from the point of view of their country. 

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Each student was assigned to research a specific aspect of Tunisian culture.  By the time competition time arrived the team was ready and armed with facts concerning engineering/arts and crafts, traditional cuisine, national anthem, typical childhood card games, and tourism/attractions.  They even collaborated with the school’s Diversity Club to host a festival.  “Participating in the Multicultural Festival helped me to become more like a Tunisian,” said Model UN team member, Jacqueline Gelman.  Model UN Coach Lenore Argen added that “they really had to be proud of their culture and persuade the students to try things out.” 

Debate training, team research and festival preparations were the ingredients for success in this competition.  When explaining their feelings about their success students answered confidently that they learned several valuable things.  “The important thing is you have to be diplomatic,” said Gelman.  “On the first day of class the first thing we read on the board was the word ‘diplomacy.’” Ilana Goldin, another member of team Tunisia explained that “it gave us a chance to learn about government.  I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up but I know that learning about diplomacy and public speaking will help me figure it out.”

After each team verbally submitted their Resolution in an open forum of discussion, they were instructed to combine their ideas to form a unified Resolution addressing Global Education.  Team Tunisia explained they experienced some turbulence but because of their discipline and training they were able to work it out.  The “heat” was on Gelman explained.  “Even though Uruguay was being unreasonable we still had to be politically correct when addressing them.”  Gelman explained that she felt team Uruguay kept getting off topic, something easy to do if you are not careful.  She gave the example that “In Tunisia, many kids are afraid to go to school because of the war so it was hard not to get side tracked and start talking about the importance of providing safety.”

Team Tunisia’s Resolution promoted the idea of an international bartering system where one country, rich in educational resources, could exchange them for something else.  “If one country was going to offer teachers the other country could give back with textiles,” said Rohan Bendre, another model UN student.

Students of Lenore Argen’s Model United Nations class are charged and enthusiastic about learning more.  All though her class has concluded, students are looking forward to getting involved in other “Gifted and Talented cluster classes” such as Debate and Forensics.  “We get a lot of public speaking experience with Forensics, Debate, and Model UN,” explained Andrew Huang, a member of the Gifted and Talented program at Heritage.  Moreover, students of Argen’s class are forward thinking and cognoscente that classes such as Model UN are shaping them for their future. 

Student Serena Zhao shared her feelings by saying, “I was aware that we were going to learn how the UN functions, but more importantly, the class taught me how to debate my opinion and how to work with others even when they don’t agree with you.  That is a very important skill we will need.”  Bendre added, “It’s kinda funny how things work out.  Model UN was actually my second choice but I’m glad I got placed here because I’ve gotten a good idea about how other people live around the world.”

The Junior Model United Nations Competition is an annual event sponsored by the New Jersey Consortium for Gifted and Talented Programs.  The Event is run by the Seton Hall University Model United Nations Association in cooperation with the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations.