LMU’s commitment to forming leaders who transform the world is not limited to its campus. In fact, LMU’s commitment extends right into our own backyard at the Westchester YMCA, where the University is working with YMCA staff to help grow the Model United Nations Program and increase participation from local youth.
In the YMCA’s Model United Nations program, middle school students (grades 6, 7, and 8) meet weekly to discuss current affairs, politics, economics, and diplomacy. Children interested in the political process become ambassadors, and amongst their peers learn to debate international issues, give public speeches, and participate in committees.
At the end of the four-month program, ambassadors attend a state-wide summit in Irvine with approximately 500 delegates from across California. There, the ambassadors establish their own student-run United Nations.
At each summit, the ambassadors hold meetings of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and more. Ambassadors research, debate, and establish policies, treaties, and resolutions on topics including peace-keeping responsibilities, border crises, stabilizing financial markets, and dealing with hunger, disease, and poverty.
One evening during the summit is spent in a national disaster simulation event, training students how to respond in an emergency. This year, ambassadors also learned more about environmental sustainability—specifically the importance of access to clean water and sanitation.
This year’s Westchester delegation represented The Bahamas and South Africa. Under the guidance of advisor Ernest Johnson, the ambassadors learned more about leadership, critical thinking, and how to resolve world crises without resorting to armed conflict. The Model UN program has been in effect in Westchester for just a few years, but has grown from two ambassadors in the first year to seven in 2015.