Critical Thinking and Collaboration are cornerstones of Somerset Inquiry. Joanne Joe explains.
Bonjour Mes Amis! Guten Tag!
Seven Year 11 and 12 students made the arduous and early journey on Saturday 24 March, down to the Tweed Civic Centre to go undercover and to take on new personas for the day. That whole day, we were no longer lowly Senior School students... we were the incredibly revered and feared delegates of France and Germany in a Model United Nations debate!
The Model United Nations debate is a regional debate run by Rotary Australia. Teams of three Senior students are asked to represent a nation belonging to the UN and embody its values and demographics as we debate alongside other ‘nations’ in response to resolutions proposed about prevalent international issues.
With several training sessions under our berets and those fancy feathered German hats, we walked into the debate hall with confidence and pride – until we realised most other students were as nervous and confused as we were.
The day began with a very comforting introductory session that certainly eased a few jitters; no matter how anyone acted, we were all beginners, and would all rise to the challenge and participate as much as possible. Commitment and drive to succeed in this new environment is what tied everyone together – meaning morning tea was welcome accompaniment to mingling and conversation.
Once we began debating, anxiety showed its face – the microphones we were given not helping the situation – but all students present were undoubtedly supportive and respectful of each other. Soon enough, competitiveness was sparked and the debate swung into full action. The day quickly became lively and heated as everyone voiced their opinions and fought for their ideals. Teamwork and communication was necessary within teams and amongst the different nations, and heads were put together as we solved issues and revised action plans.
The issues we were asked to respond to include the Syrian refugee crisis, trade and communications standards as well as political action that needs to be taken in response to current military climate in North Korea. The debate was brought to a whole new level by the notion that we were to conduct ourselves as true delegates of our respective countries.
The level of articulation and maturity displayed by all teams was unprecedented – and recognised in a ceremony that brought the day to a close. The Somerset College team representing France (made up of Uni Kyeong, Montana MacFarlane and Joanne Joe) were awarded third place, a Judge’s Encouragement Award for their efforts.
I cannot praise enough how well the day was organised, managed (and catered). We were truly able to enjoy ourselves. We left the Civic Centre with a spring in our step and filled with the ease and confidence we lacked when walking in. MUNA introduced us to new, like-minded people and emphasised there is much to be gained by pretending to be delegates of another country for a day (or by expanding your comfort zone and trying something new). The day was filled with new experiences and necessitated spontaneity, highlighted the importance of research and perspective and engaged everyone.
I would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to both Mrs Hossy and Somerset College alumnus Ashraf Docrat on behalf of the Somerset MUNA teams for coordinating the debate teams and training us for the day; so much time and effort was put into making the day exceptional and it is certainly Mrs Hossy and Ashraf that we have to thank for this.
The MUNA debate creates an ideal environment for students who want to learn to speak more confidently, expand their social skills and witness the value of conversation and collaboration. Next year, I encourage everyone with even the slightest interest to sign up and participate. Like the students who participated this year, you may well enjoy yourselves immensely!
As Joseph Joubert says:
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It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.