BY HRIPSIME KARADJIAN
In mid November, about 50 students from Ferrahian Middle and High Schools participated in an exhilarating Model United Nations conference. The students ranged from grades 8th through twelfth; and this particular conference took place at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ferrahian High School has diligently recruited their own students for 14 years to participate in this conference every year not only because it is a helpful extracurricular program to have taken part in, but also because students also take home a new sense of the world.
At such conferences, pairs of students attend as a delegation each representing another nation in a faux committee branch of the UN. A delegation is traditionally assigned to their country of representation, committee, and two topics to be discussed during debate sessions ahead of time. Such topics include current social, political, economic, and humanitarian issues. This gives the students opportunity to create and turn in well-written research papers on each topic; here students tend to demonstrate how well they know each topic’s history, what their nation of representation’s foreign policy is, and what they think could solve the issues at hand. With this newfound research, and quite a few training sessions from our Ferrahian MUN organizer, coaches, and alumni Garen Bostanian and Steve Dadaian, our students headed to the conference.
At this conference, students witness and participate in hard hitting debates on the topics they have grown to know well. Awards given on the basis of their research papers are handed out during committee sessions, while awards based on their performance in committee are handed out during an award ceremony on the last day of conference. Each of these awards is given to a single delegation, meaning each pair of students is given a single award.
This year, Ferrahian took home three research awards. These awards went to Aren Kurkjian and Vagharshag Avetisyan, Lynna Ohanian and Hripsime Karadjian, and lastly Shawnt Karakozian and Farah Kandah. Our school also took home a Commendation Delegate award, given to Shawnt Karakozian and Farah Kandah for their rigorous participation in debate. Shawnt and Farah were also given the Outstanding Delegate award at Model UN at UC Berkeley last year.
Many of our students at Ferrahian who participated in the MUN conference at UCLA were very motivated and excited to take part in such a prestigious gathering, regardless if they won an award or not. Each hard working student left with a new outlook on the world and the issues plaguing it, and a new understanding of their role in working towards a resolution to those issues by being active participants in the international community.
The Turkish Guest Speaker:
This year’s Model UN experience at UCLA came with an unexpected twist. About a week prior to the conference, our Model UN advisors were notified that the keynote speaker at the Opening Ceremonies was scheduled to be Tolga Arslan, the Vice Concul of the Turkish Government.
This news was very disturbing ti our school as we all know that the policies of the Turkish government are in violation of so many of the United Nation’s principles.
The principal of our school, John Kossakian sent an email to the President, the Secretary General and the Director of the External Relations of the Model UN program, expressing his disappointment of the choice of such a speaker. In cooperation with the Armenian National Committee, Western Region, and the Armenian Youth Federation and the Armenian Student Association, flyers setting forth Turkey’s numerous violations of the UN charter were printed and distributed prior to the Opening Ceremonies to the hundreds of participating delegations. Our principal, Mr. Kossakian, who was in attendance at the Opening Ceremonies, was prepared to lead the students out of the hall where the ceremony was to be held as the Vice Consul, Tolga Arslan, was going to be introduced as the keynote speaker. One day prior to this vent, Ferrahian students debated this issue decided to leave the conference hall at that time; and as news spread, the Alex Pilibos Schools students were willing to join forces with us in this political stance.
To everyone’s surprise, it was announced that Arslan had “called in sick” and therefore his appearance was cancelled. This year, the theoretical became practical. The students had a first hand experience on how to deal with a last minute “crisis” through the use of diplomacy and activism.