Former participants and TU alums share their experiences
The annual Towson University–Baltimore County Public School (TU/BCPS) Model United Nations Conference celebrated its 15th anniversary Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 in the Liberal Arts Building.
The Model United Nations program strives to broaden the educational opportunities of college-bound high school students through the study of international affairs by increasing global awareness. Model United Nations is an authentic simulation of the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, or other multilateral body, which introduces students to the world of diplomacy, negotiation, and decision making.
More than 250 high school students and teachers from 16 schools in Baltimore County, Charles County and Baltimore City participated in the conference along with several TU professors. Over 20 current TU students and eight alumni also participated.
The Model UN included an investigation of world issues, development of platforms and positions, debates and presentations about each issue, and resolutions to be voted upon by the delegates. This year’s debate scenario was “The Challenges and Benefits of International Migration.”
According to Alison McCartney, who started the Model UN in 2002 along with Carver Center for the Arts teacher Hugh Kearney, in cooperation with Baltimore County Public Schools' Office of Social Studies, “the event helps to spur students’ knowledge and awareness of international politics and issues as well as critical thinking and presentation skills.”
“High school students get to meet and work with college professors and college students in a variety of hands-on activities, starting with a training day in November and culminating with the two-day conference held on campus in March,” according to McCartney.
“We provide significant learning activities which prepare them for college-level academic expectations, such as discussion activities and feedback on oral presentation opportunities and writing evidence-based documents.”
McCartney says that “close to 200” students have attended TU as a result of their Model UN experience.
Two of those students are Towson University alumnus Lily McFeeters,’16, and Ivana Djukic, ’14, who participated in the TU/BCPS Model UN prior to attending TU.
McFeeters, who is now a grad student at Georgetown University majoring in Asian studies and working part-time as a research intern in the Japan Chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, credits the Model UN with helping to shape her career.
“Model UN shaped most of my future choices from an early age regarding what I majored in, what classes I enrolled in, studying abroad in Japan, and eventually entering Georgetown.
“Through Model UN, I got a clear picture of the importance diplomacy plays in our global existence. I intend to pursue a career in which I can influence U.S. policy and continue to stress the importance of diplomacy in U.S. relations with other countries.”
Djukic, who works for the Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) as a program analyst for the Europe/Eurasia region, never visited Towson U before Model UN, despite living near campus.
Her experience attending the Model UN in 2008, as a sophomore in high school, brought her to TU.
“Although I had lived down the street from Towson University for most of my life, I had never been on campus. Model UN provided a unique experience to visit and to interact with college students who were volunteering with the conference” Djukic said.
“During my time at Towson, I had the opportunity to mentor a group of students participating in Model UN and volunteered several times with the conference. After I graduated from Towson, I chose to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs, motivated by the same desire I had when participating in Model UN: to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the international community and the means to prevent/resolve conflict.”
Djukic went on to say, “I think every student would benefit from the opportunity to participate in Model UN. It helps students develop their leadership, public speaking, and teamwork skills, and gives them the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of individuals. Plus, it’s always fun!”
McFeeters and Djukic praised McCartney as an “exceptional mentor” who pushed her students to reach their full potential, providing support, encouragement and passion.
According to Djukic, “I also cannot submit this without acknowledging the incredible Dr. Alison McCartney—who does so much to promote Model UN at Towson University. When I was a student, I often wondered how she managed to do it all. I was convinced she had extra hours in the day. The commitment she displays to students and the annual conference as a whole is inspiring. I felt quite lucky to have had the privilege of assisting with Model UN because I got to witness her commitment first-hand. It served as a perfect reminder for me that despite all of the negativity in the world today, one individual can have a significant impact on their community.”
McFeeters summed up her experience, “Model UN is a great training ground for any student interested in a career in diplomacy or international affairs of any kind. For me, it shaped my global outlook and future personal goals.”