***image1***The Model United Nations club at Ramstein American High School recently hosted a conference with participants from Ivanovo and Yaroslavl, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; Lakenheath, England, and the KMC.
MUN is a high school organization in which students take on the role of an ambassador for a particular country and debate the world’s most pressing issues.
“In doing so, students develop their speaking and problem solving skills,” said Bryan,12, RAHS senior.
Just fifteen years ago, it would have been impossible for RAMS MUN to have brought students from Russia and Belarus together with American students anywhere, much less doing so on the largest American airbase in Europe.
MUN provides students with the opportunity to step outside of their own political beliefs and try to understand those of another country, said Bryan.
Ramstein’s hosting of this conference is particularly meaningful historically because of Ramstein’s relationship with the city of Ivanovo.
Though most people on Ramstein have never heard of this small industrial city in the heart of Russia, it was Kathy Schmoll, the wife of a RAHS teacher, who was the first American ever in Ivanovo.
Because of the efforts of Schmoll and a few others, Ivanovo hosts a MUN conference every year, thus it became RAHS’s goal to host a conference that would bring Russian students together with American students to foster fraternity and friendship.
The goal became a reality when 35 Russian and Byelorussian students arrived on Ramstein April 11.
The foreign students lived with an American family for the duration of their one week stay.
The opening ceremonies included speakers and representatives from the base and from the high school. The keynote speaker was retired Heidelberg teacher Dr. Richard Knapp.
The delegates split into two groups: the General Assembly and the Security Council. Following the structure of the UN, the assembly consists of all member nations and debates a wide variety of topics, whereas the council consists only of 15 member states, five permanent and 10 rotary members with two year terms, and debates only issues dealing with security.
On the agenda of debate this year in the council were two extremely important topics: the issue of international terrorism and the question of peace in the Middle East.
Two intense days of debating and writing produced two resolutions.
The assembly, in the meantime, debated a total of five resolutions during the conference. The topics ranged from the dangers of food derived from biotechnology, to dealing with the growing problem of HIV/AIDS, to the question of permanent sovereignty for the Palestinian people.
After the resolutions had all been debated, Ramstein did something new for a MUN conference. The delegates were broken into smaller groups and given problems more relevant to students and teenagers, including the issue of school violence and the fact that Russian schools do not allow any fund-raising on the part of the students.
Although there are a few thousand kilometers separating the students, many will count the days until they have the opportunity to come back to Ramstein next year.
(Courtesy of Ramstein American High School)