Young aspiring diplomats shine at global Model UN summit
Five Lebanese high school students from the LAU MUN program return with awards from the International Model UN Conference held in New York City.
LAU MUN program director and OCE executive director Elie Samia (2nd from left) and LAU High School MUN's secretary-general Rindala Mikhael (1st from right), with the LAU MUN delegation after the awards ceremony at the UN Headquarters.
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Five Lebanese high school students representing LAU’s Model UN program returned with awards from the 12th Global Classrooms International Model UN Conference held in New York, May 11-15.
Khalil Baddour, Laetitia Chattat, Farah Baya, Elie Ghaby, and Anthony Mattar — representing the only delegation from Lebanon and one of very few from the region — debated and negotiated their way through mock committees and resolutions to walk away with prestigious awards.
Baddour and Chattat represented Malta in the UN Conference on Sport for Peace and Development, winning the Best Delegation Award in that category, which counted 380 students from around the world.
“There is no feeling that comes close to hearing ‘Malta’ (the country we were representing) being called out to receive the Best Delegation Award inside the UN Headquarters,” says Baddour. “Just being inside a building in which the world’s greatest leaders have stepped is amazing,” he adds.
Baya and Ghaby represented Malta in the General Assembly First Committee, debating “The Role of Science and Technology in the Context of International Security and Disarmament.” They competed against 382 other delegates to win two Honorable Mention Awards in their category for creative diplomatic skills and strong negotiating abilities.
Elie Samia, executive director of LAU’s Outreach and Civic Engagement unit and LAU MUN program director, accompanied the students along with LAU High School MUN’s secretary-general Rindala Mikhael.
According to Samia, Mattar too gave a formidable performance in the 15-seat Historical Security Council, but as the only delegation with one member, it was challenging to win an award.
“The students handled themselves superbly well,” says Samia. “They enjoyed the action, took the lead when necessary, acted with poise and maturity, had diplomatic tact, and harvested the awards they rightfully deserved.”
“Winning these awards is extremely validating for OCE and LAU as it is a testimony of the passion and dedication of our students who run the MUN program and train the high school students who performed so brilliantly in New York City,” says Dr. Elise Salem, LAU vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Management.
The five high schoolers were chosen out of 1,250 participants in LAU’s Model UN program, passing through a rigorous selection process that eventually narrowed down the number of candidates to 16. A committee of LAU officials then chose the five after a round of oral interviews.
LAU has been sending students to the Global Classrooms summit since 2005, and LAU MUN delegates have won a number of awards in previous years. This year, 2,400 delegates from 141 schools and educational institutes from all over the world took part in the conference.
“The summit truly widened my horizons and made me a citizen of the world rather than just a citizen of Lebanon,” says Baddour.
For Chattat, the most rewarding part of the conference was getting to work with people from different cultures and religions. “The fact that we could all work as one body, with no discrimination, showed me that we can have a peaceful future,” she says.