The fourth annual staging of the model United Nations Assembly got underway at UN House in Hastings yesterday, with organisers hailing the benefits of the exercise to young people.
The programme, a collaboration between the Rotary Clubs of Barbados and the United Nations, presents a forum for networking as well as opportunities for self-development.
Rotary President Jeddel Robinson told the audience that over the next six weeks, every Saturday young participants from various secondary schools attending will hone their debating skills and focus on global issues which also affect our region like migration and human rights in the international system.
District Governor Milton Inniss pointed out the opportunity to develop “critical thinking during the educational simulation”, and also identified world figures like US Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, who benefited from the same programme.
President of Rotary Clubs in Barbados Farid Mansour expressed The Rotary Clubs’ immense satisfaction in increasing the knowledge of Barbadian students and highlighted one of the programme’s strengths: for the young participants to become more tolerant of others and at a macro level, more aware of the positions various nations take on international issues.
UN Resident Coordinator Stephen O’Malley supported Mansour’s comments, saying: “Beyond exposing you to the work of the UN, we believe that it gives you a set of skills that are fundamentally useful.”
Further, O’Malley identified the research involved in preparing to represent an unfamiliar country as a valuable lesson in empathy regardless of any field they choose: “It is important to put yourself in the shoes of any person you’re dealing with.” The UN representative underscored his point with humour when he urged “not to follow Donald Trump’s model.”
O’Malley said he hoped that at the end of the programme participants would have also improved their listening skills. (SS)