The LFRD Model United Nations Team’s Unforgettable Journey to New York

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From March 6-12, 2024, the Model United Nations (MUN) team of the Lycée Français René Descartes (LFRD) embarked on an incredible journey to New York City. This trip was not only an opportunity for the students to engage in high-level debates and simulations at the MUN conference but also a chance to explore the vibrant city and its rich history.

March 7: Exploring the City and Reflecting on History

Our first full day in New York City was packed with activities that left our terminale students both exhilarated and reflective. We started the day with a poignant visit to the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial (Ground Zero), where the students could contemplate the tragic events and their global impact. This was followed by an enlightening seminar at the Swiss Consulate, where we learned about Switzerland’s role in the UN and the UN Security Council. The contrast between the memorial’s somber reflection on extremism and the Swiss Consulate’s emphasis on neutrality provided a rich context for our students to consider global issues.

Despite the evening rain, the students had some free time to explore local attractions like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the New York Public Library. The hotel was abuzz with delegates, setting the stage for the upcoming conference.

March 8: A Day of Icons and Inspiration

Yesterday’s adventure took us to some of New York’s most iconic landmarks. We visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Wall Street, immersing ourselves in the historical and cultural fabric of the city. The morning routine of jogging in Central Park has become a favorite for some of our students, helping them start the day refreshed and energized.

The highlight of the day was our visit to the United Nations Headquarters. Here, the students got a firsthand look at the main assembly rooms and received a special tour from Mr. Nicolas Masson of the Swiss mission at the Security Council and Miss Kalyan Keo, an expert in Climate Change from the Secretary-General’s office. These experiences enriched the students’ understanding of international diplomacy and the workings of the UN.

March 9: The Conference Begins

Yesterday’s adventure took us to some of New York’s most iconic landmarks. We visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Wall Street, immersing ourselves in the historical and cultural fabric of the city. The morning routine of jogging in Central Park has become a favorite for some of our students, helping them start the day refreshed and energized.

The highlight of the day was our visit to the United Nations Headquarters. Here, the students got a firsthand look at the main assembly rooms and received a special tour from Mr. Nicolas Masson of the Swiss mission at the Security Council and Miss Kalyan Keo, an expert in Climate Change from the Secretary-General’s office. These experiences enriched the students’ understanding of international diplomacy and the workings of the UN.

March 10: Debates and Resolutions

The conference sessions were in full swing, with our students participating in discussions from 1 pm to 4:30 pm and again from 6:30 pm to 10:15 pm. They worked diligently in blocs, drafting working papers and preparing draft resolutions. The following day promised more debates, amendments, and votes, culminating in a highly anticipated social event. Our students adapted quickly to the specific procedures of this conference, showcasing their resilience and determination.

March 11: A Global Gathering

This year’s conference was unique, with 3,400 delegates from around the world. The sheer scale of the event provided a rich tapestry of perspectives and ideas, enhancing the overall experience for our students. The evening’s social event was a highlight, offering a chance for delegates to relax and network after a day of rigorous debates.

March 12: Wrapping Up in Style

Our last full day in New York was equally memorable. The morning plenary session and closing ceremony marked the end of the conference, followed by a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The students were both intrigued and impressed by the masterpieces of Picasso, Dali, Kandinsky, and Van Gogh. This cultural immersion was the perfect conclusion to an intellectually stimulating trip.

As we packed our bags and prepared for the journey home, the students reflected on their experiences. They had not only enhanced their understanding of global issues but also developed invaluable skills in diplomacy, public speaking, and critical thinking.

The Educational Value of the MUN Experience

Participating in the Model United Nations is a significant component of the curriculum for French schools abroad, particularly within the AEFE network. It aligns with the educational objectives of developing critical thinking, fostering international understanding, and promoting active citizenship. The MUN experience allows students to step into the shoes of diplomats, debate on pressing global issues, and propose solutions, all of which are essential skills in today’s interconnected world.

The trip to New York provided an unparalleled opportunity for our students to apply their classroom learning in a real-world context. It also underscored the importance of cultural exchange and international collaboration, which are cornerstones of the French educational philosophy.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the organizers, chaperones, and professionals who made this trip possible. The LFRD MUN team returns home not only with memories of an unforgettable journey but with a renewed commitment to making a difference in the world.

Stay tuned for more updates and stories from our students’ adventures!