Model UN Students Debate World Action, Coronavirus Response
Three weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 122 junior high and high school students from Oregon Seventh-day Adventist schools met at Portland Adventist Academy for their third annual Model United Nations.
Representing the country of Indonesia in the health and environment council was Kelsey Judd, a PAA sophomore. She sponsored resolutions to stop the spread of COVID-19 with co-sponsor delegates from Mexico and Nigeria.
Just a week later, resolutions similar to Judd’s were being implemented by governments around the world. “When I wrote my resolutions, there were only 1,000 deaths worldwide and it was only in 25 countries outside of China,” says Judd. “Less than a month later there are more than 1,000 deaths New York City.”
The new coronavirus was just one of many world challenges the students debated. They also explored how best to provide safe drinking water and access to education in developing nations, as well as ways to help countries experiencing civil war and how to protect the rights of people to worship according to their conscience.
Tim Erich and Sean Kootsey, PAA social studies and history teachers, believe in the value of the Model United Nations experience especially in times like these. “It reveals the interconnectedness of all peoples,” says Erich. “It helps students see that there are many very challenging issues in the world that do not have easy answers or solutions.”
“I can think of no better form of learning social studies,” says Kootsey. “Students from different schools were sitting in a room and grappling with the real problems facing humanity today — climate change, access to fresh water, war and the lack of security in many regions of the world, access to education.”
“The most important discovery that can come from participating in our Model U.N. is the understanding that every human being can make a difference,” says Erich. “Effectively using the ideas, skills and resources that God has given us can have a positive effect on our family, our school, our church, and on our community, country and world.”
In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, that means staying home. And that’s something the Model U.N. students are now experiencing firsthand. “When I was writing my resolution, I never imagined that one month later we would all be doing school online and quarantined in our homes,” says Judd.
Judd, her fellow MUN participants and all the Oregon Conference students are getting more than a quality education. They are getting a Christian perspective on how to see and act in our world.
“This world is not our home,” says Kootsey. “We are looking forward to a perfect future. But in the meantime, God has charged us with taking care of our planet and taking care of each other. He has given us some very basic guidelines both through the Ten Commandments and in the example of Jesus that teach us to respect each other, not kill each other, and to reach out to and take care of those that are less fortunate than ourselves."
“One way my faith in Jesus keeps me looking forward is knowing that He will come one day and there will be no more diseases or deaths and we will get to live with Him in heaven,” says Judd. “I feel hopeful for the days ahead knowing God is in control.”