Prep goes to Princeton

Students to debate global affairs at annual conference

A group of 20 Cayman Prep and High School students were on their way to New Jersey Monday to take part in this year’s Princeton Model United Nations Conference.

As members of the school’s Senior Model United Nations club, the 15-to-18 year olds have been selected to pit their debating and negotiation skills against other Model United Nations club students from across the world. This year’s conference, scheduled to run from Nov. 19 to 22, has attracted 1,100 delegates.

Most of Prep’s students are by now MUN veterans, having taken part in previous conferences in New York and last year’s Yale Model Government Europe conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Already well-versed in researching and drafting proposition papers, negotiating with other delegates to persuade them to back their resolutions (and brokering compromise resolutions when needed), students will also have to be up-to-speed on the procedural aspects of how to conduct themselves during debates.

Held in the same format and style as U.N. meetings, the issues discussed and the papers drafted will be similar to what U.N. delegates and world leaders see.

Mark Freeman, one of the school’s MUN advisers said, “We have chosen Princeton because of the institution’s world-class reputation [and] primarily because the conference has been organized around small committees and crisis committees that we feel challenge our students and encourage their full participation.”

As Princeton Model United Nations Conference delegates, the Year 11 to 13 students have already been assigned a committee and will be members of U.N. delegations from member states from as far afield as Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Delegates will work together to find practical and positive solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing crises.

Grouped under the headings of “General Assembly, Specialized and Crisis,” each of the committees will be chaired by Princeton students with experience in running MUN meetings.

On the run-up to the conference, each committee was assigned two topics on which delegates submitted proposition papers based on their country’s stance and likely policy on certain subjects. Topics up for debate include: press freedom and journalistic integrity, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; post-conflict economic and social recovery; and commodity price dependency.

In tackling complex topics, delegations will try to win support for their position papers from others by thinking on their feet and paying close attention to the mood of each debate if they stand a chance of having their resolutions adopted. In many cases, backroom deals will be struck and revised papers drafted to allow a chance of success.

Throughout the debates, delegates will also be assessed by conference facilitators on criteria including their performance, the quality of their position papers, their knowledge of the subject material and adherence to policy of country or character.

The hope is to foster an interest in global affairs, politics and conflict resolution in young adults that help make them natural leaders who are critical thinkers and global citizens.

Speaking of the trip, the school’s principal, Sheila Purdom said, “Our MUN delegates … are outstanding young people who have been thoroughly prepared by a team of committed and knowledgeable teachers. I am sure this will be another very memorable experience for all of them.”

Committee sessions are scheduled to take place up to three times a day. On most days, committee meetings will finish at 11:30 p.m.

Before the hectic schedule of early starts and late nights of formal meetings, caucuses, research and redrafting; Prep students can look forward to some downtime, including a duck tour, trips to an ice hockey game and the theater, as well as a tour of the Ivy League campus.

The trip has attracted sponsorship from Mourant Ozannes, Genesis Trust, Cayman National Bank and Sackville Bank.

Students from Cayman Prep High School attending the Yale Model Government Europe conference in Budapest, Hungary last year.

Students from Cayman Prep High School attending the Yale Model Government Europe conference in Budapest, Hungary last year.