At Far East Model U.N., DODDS students learn the art of compromise
January 28, 2004
TOKYO — U.S. government policies look a little different through the eyes of a French diplomat than through those of a Yokosuka high school student.
This week, Department of Defense Dependents Schools students will learn to appreciate those differences as they seek global compromise in the Far East Model United Nations Conference.
The 225 participants include DODDS students from Japan, Okinawa and South Korea, students from Department of Defense Education Activity schools on Guam, several international schools in Japan and South Korea and, for the first time, students from Japanese high schools.
Each school sends delegations that assume the role of a different country; DODDS students represent 15 nations, from North Korea to Brazil.
“They have to take on a different point of view,” said Erin Casey, a co-organizer of the conference and the teacher leading the Nile C. Kinnick High School group from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. “They have to look at things from a different perspective from their own.”
Kinnick’s students will act as diplomats representing France. The students selected the nation that most vocally opposed U.S. war plans last spring.
The event aims at teaching the students to construct a logical argument and to counter other nations’ arguments. Using a foreign perspective helps hone their logic and remove opinion and emotion, organizers said.
The students also learn that there really are no victories in diplomacy.
“The goal is not to win or lose but to come to some kind of agreement,” Casey said. “When they have to compromise on something, they feel like they’re being weak.” But they learn that “you have to give a little to win a little.”
The delegations break into committees for the conference then are to reconvene at the end for a General Assembly meeting.
Committee members must reach an acceptable agreement on issues, then persuade their own delegations to accept those agreements. On Thursday, the full assembly meets to try to finalize the deals made.
As in real life, nations can agree on issues or disagree, but agree to keep the issue in consideration for the future. And as in real life, a list of topics is being considered — including terrorism, sustainable development and literacy — that echo what might be found in the world’s newspaper headlines.
“The goal is to come up with resolutions — workable solutions,” Casey said. “Or at the very least to say we know there’s a problem and we want to work on it.”
Evelyn Sasamoto, the teacher leading the Yokota High School group, persuaded the United Nations University — a research institute in Omote-Sando, Tokyo, funded by Japan — to provide the venue. For the General Assembly meeting, two professional simultaneous interpreters will participate. Yokota’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps will provide security — like U.N. guards.
Students 14 to 18 years of age can join the Model United Nations through classes or extracurricular clubs at schools.
Who's who ...
Here are the countries that DODDS students will represent at the Far East Model United Nations Conference:
Guam:United Kingdom; Kadena: North Korea; Kubasaki: China; Iwakuni: Brazil; Misawa: Australia; Osan: India; Pusan: Israel; Sasebo: Mexico; Seoul: Pakistan; Taegu: United States; Yokosuka: France; Yokota (three delegations): Russia; South Korea; Japan; Zama: Germany
— Juliana Gittler