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14 April 2016
Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference: Next Generation of Leaders Find Their Voice

On April 8, 2016 over 600 students, educators, volunteers, and guests attended Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model UN Conference at the U.S. Department of State and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Students grades 5 – 12 discussed some of the most pressing global challenges, representing United Nations (UN) Member States in committees including the Security Council, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year’s topics focused on the current situation in Syria, World Heritage Site conservation, fair trade and sustainable supply chains, climate change, and nuclear non-proliferation.

The opening ceremonies began with remarks from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s (UNA-NCA) President Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), followed by inspiring remarks from Andy Rabens, the Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Mr. Rabens encouraged the delegates to find their voice, and speak up, while sharing his own experiences participating in Model UN as a student. Debate was opened by Global Classrooms DC Student Secretary General Tima Mikdashi (read her letter to delegates here).

GCDC April 8 Students

Students dispersed into committee sessions, while educators and guests were invited to attend the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland, highlighted Global Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Obtaining a quality education is the foundation for improving people’s lives and sustainable development. While major progress has been made towards increasing access to education and basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, greater efforts are needed for achieving universal education goals.  For over a decade, our GCDC program has been working with some of DC’s most underserved students to improve their public speaking, teach conflict management skills, and expand their understanding of global issues while providing access to the resources of our nation’s capital. Ms. Boland also thanked sponsors and close partners including the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for their support to UNA-NCA and GCDC over the years. (Read remarks regarding April 8 from Mark Schlachter, Director for Public Affairs, Planning, and Coordination for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs).

GCDC April 8 The afternoon was filled by a Professional Development Workshop for teachers, where Director of the United Nations Information Center Robert Skinner discussed some of the resources available to teachers.

Closing ceremonies consisted of congratulatory remarks from UNA-NCA Director of Global Education, Megan Penn and words from Marti Estell, Division Chief of Recruitment Outreach, and Coordinator for the Diplomat in Resident Program at the U.S. Department of State, on how she began at the U.S. Department of State and the opportunities available to students. Ms. Mikdashi, GCDC Secretary General, closed the conference with position paper and committee awards for Honorable Mention, Outstanding Delegation, and Best Delegation. 

Numerous students, educators, guests, and volunteers shared how valuable it is to have an opportunity for students to voice their opinions, and prepare them for a global community. 

Thank you to all our speakers and a very special thank you for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization for continued support and hosting the event throughout the years. UNA-NCA also thanks the UN Federal Credit Union, and GCDC Spring Model UN Conference sponsors. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – this conference could not run without your support.

Full coverage of the Opening Ceremonies is available for viewing on YouTube or watch the video above.

Follow Global Classrooms DC on Twitter @GCDC_ModelUN for more coverage of the Model UN Conference on April 8 #GCDCMUN #IamModelUN

GCDC 2016 Sponsors