- Senior School
A Report of the MUN Conference by S6 Journalist, Ruby
As part of our enrichment programme, we offer S6s the opportunity to participate in various journalistic opportunities in and around the school.
Last weekend, budding correspondent Ruby, reported on the recent MUN Conference - the largest event of its kind to be held at our school in the last five years. Ruby detailed the day perfectly, giving an intricate account of how the day transpired, drawing on why MUN can be a beneficial extracurricular activity for pupils across the school:
“The GWC music school auditorium was charged with excited, yet nervous, chatter on the morning of Saturday 4 November. Around 90 Modern United Nations (MUN) enthusiasts from seven different schools gathered to participate in the largest MUN conference held at George Watson's College in the last 5 years.
After weeks of preparation with the support of MUN leader, Mr Walls, and secretary general, Aaron (S6), a significant number of Watson’s pupils were ready to take part. They were given the opportunity to research and debate over a series of solutions to relevant, current world issues. These ranged from wildfires, caused by the ever increasing issue of climate change, the dangers of depleted uranium radiation poisoning, the conflict in Israel and Palestine to the Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Modern United Nations is one of the many clubs offered at Watson’s, and is a reproduction of the United Nations, where participants are able to act as delegates from the member countries of the United Nations to discuss world issues. This gives pupils an insight into the undertakings of international relations.
Following a spirited introduction, the morning started with Liam Kerr, a conservative MSP, who was also previously editor to our very own Phoenix Magazine, taking the floor as the first guest speaker. His talk focused on the ‘Death of Debate’, in which he emphasised the importance of debating in politics alongside the growing issue of social media. He stated:
“The skills you are using and developing today are more important to our world than they have ever been.”
The second speaker was South Morningside MSP, Daniel Johnson, who highlighted that the only way to make a difference to society is to get involved in all opportunities as a means to make things better for everyone. He stated: “politics isn’t about getting status for yourself, it's about serving others.” Johnson was involved in the European Youth Parliament, and was motivated to get into politics due to the social inequality he saw around him.
The MUN conference was a fantastic opportunity that allowed Watson’s pupils to learn from politicians, and ask them questions. Although these talks were contrasting in content, they both underlined the same message: the importance of getting involved. This was demonstrated so inspiringly by those who took part in Saturday's event, all of whom are engaging in our school value: join in.
The rest of the day was spent through spirited debates, both in committees and an emergency assembly which focussed on the issue of ‘Deep Fakes’. This allowed participants to express views, experiment with friendly arguments and even delve into their acting abilities.
With the opportunities created by MUN, this conference has given Watson’s pupils opportunities in leadership, offering them the chance to gain confidence through public speaking. This event has also given pupils the opportunity to make connections with pupils from other schools - sharing similar interests and providing a safe space, free of discrimination and inequality, despite conflicting opinions.
As Liam Kerr stated, "true debating builds up empathy and understanding to different points of view” - this is a valuable skill, and will likely take Watson’s MUN participants on to do bigger and better things as they consider options beyond school.”