APU International School in Ho Chi Minh City (APU HCMC) has for a decade-and-a-half provided students with a chance at bettering their lives through education. Earlier this month, APU took a step into the global future as 20 of its high school students traveled to Singapore to take part in the school’s first-ever Model United Nations conference.
The APU delegation returned to HCMC after its three-day conference (October 9-11) having experienced, as one student, Alice Le, grade 11, put it, “A whole new world.”
Indeed, the APU students met, listened to, debated with, and discussed with high school students from countries such as India, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. The students confronted global issues such as the illicit trade of small arms, migration due to severe climate changes, benefits and problems related to cryptocurrency, the empowerment of women, the question of hormone regulation in the Olympics, and international collaboration for achieving water security. These are topics most of our students may never have been exposed to without the research and preparation required by the Model United Nations.
APU students served on the following committees: United Nations Environment Program (3 students), Disarmament and International Security (7 students), Commission on the Status of Women (3 students), Economic and Financial Committee (6 students), and the International Olympic Committee (1 student). Each student was also assigned one country to represent among the following: Afghanistan, Guatemala, Iraq, Mauritius, the Netherlands, and Venezuela.
The APU Model UN delegation was comprised of the following students: Alice Le Ho Thuy Vy Leo Tran Nhu Phu, Anna Nguyen Thuy Huong Quan, James Mai Le Khanh Trinh, Christine Tra, Dean Behzad, Mary Bui Le Gia Han, Kevin Ngo Dat, Celine Pham Ngoc Hanh Vy, Alex Le Minh Trung, Mia Nguyen Huynh Chau Doan, Ron Tran Pham Anh Vu, Lisa Ngo, Larry Tang Long Dat, Aley Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Nick Nguyen Hoang Anh Trung, Lucas Pham Ngoc Tong Duy, Bill Pham Phu An, John Cao Phu Thinh, and Harry Le Ngoc Bao Chan.
Students were required to adopt a professional demeanor that included business formal attire, punctuality (attendance was taken at each committee meeting), and mastery of the lexicon of official meetings of the United Nations such as caucus, agenda, dais, placard, roll call, speakers’ list, draft resolution, yield to the chair, motion to postpone, and motion to adjourn. Students were required to refer to themselves as “The delegate of_(country)_” and were required to address others as “The delegate of _(country)_.”
Students woke up each day before 7 a.m., ate breakfast, and walked to the convention center where they began their committee meetings at 8:30 a.m. Students received several short breaks and an hour for lunch and for dinner each day before finishing the day around 9 p.m. They then walked back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for the next day. It was a demanding schedule that brought out the best of our students. They pushed themselves to achieve a level they may not have realized they could reach. After the first day, one of our students, Alex Le, was asked if he had a chance to speak in front of his committee. He said he had not. “I have many things I want to say,” he said. “But I am scared.” Alex’s United Nations Environment Program Committee was one of the larger ones consisting of 53 students from around the world. On the second day of the conference, Alex did speak in front of the committee and said he was pleased with what he said. This is an example of the type of growth and encouragement that the students experienced and that was unique to an event like a Model UN conference.
Accompanying the students on the trip were APU HCMC teachers Mr. Bill Pham and Mr. David Hillstrom and APU Da Nang administrator Helen Le. Additionally, APU HCMC teacher Mr. Brandon McLaughlin worked to interview, evaluate, and prepare the APU delegation for their participation in the Model UN conference.
The entire experience of having to dress in an unfamiliar manner, in a mostly unfamiliar country, speaking and listening entirely in English to other high school students from around the globe, was truly representative of a whole new world.
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