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Model diplomacy: TGS delegates reflect on their ShawMUN experience

With stories of famine, climate change, chemical attacks, and far-right resurgences dominating headlines across the globe, eleven of our students recently traveled to the Shawnigan Lake School in Vancouver Island, Canada, to address these very issues and many others at the 2017 Shawmun Model United Nations.

Alongside 260 delegates from fourteen other schools, our Model United Nations team -the aptly named MUN Sharks- split into nine different committees to debate scenarios ranging from the past (Western power grabs and economic imperialism in 1880’s Africa), the present (stabilizing the Eurozone and coping with the refugee crisis), the future (quelling a 2043 uprising in the fictional country of Jibukistan), and the fantastic (addressing the impending threat of the Death Eaters in a Harry Potter-themed world). For some of our students, this was their introduction to the world of Model United Nations, so the variety in committees and difficulty levels ensured a positive and not entirely overwhelming experience.

Given the global and political nature of Model United Nations events, they have proven year after year to be one of the most popular activities that our students engage in. They cite the opportunity to make new friends while working on their problem-solving abilities, public-speaking skills, and resolution writing as some of the main benefits of attending. Regarding Shawmun, 11th grader Kay M. cited it as an excellent opportunity to mingle with Canadian students in particular and learn about their culture, schooling, and daily life.

Following this year’s Shawmun, THINK Global School’s MUN Coordinator Jarret Voytilla asked his sharks to reflect on the event and share their takeaways, which you can find below. Our sharks next search for chum takes place in the diplomatic waters of CAIMUN, which will take place in Vancouver on May 19-21st.


11th grader Kay M.
Committee: Cascadia 2021

Q. Describe how you have improved your MUN skills because of this experience.

This was my first fictional scenario which challenged my creativity and problem-solving abilities. From this experience, I learned that staying alert to the mood of fellow delegates is essential to rapidly changing environments. More simply, reading people’s reactions is important even when they aren’t directly related to the topic as it can lead to forming allies.


11th grader Andrew D.
Committee: General Assembly – Illicit Arms Trade

Q. What was your role and what were your biggest successes during the conference?

I was one of the lesser, smaller countries called Djibouti on the topic about illicit arms trade. Without a doubt, there were numerous advantages and disadvantages that occurred throughout this incredible experience. Firstly, I had a great opportunity to meet new friends outside our so-called TGS bubble, and I was surprisingly able to communicate effectively in all my speeches.

Q. Describe how you have improved your MUN skills because of this experience.

Before this conference, I was usually the shy, timid delegate who would improvise on the last second to make an effort on a speech. But during the entire debate, I consistently prepared myself, took down notes, listened to other countries’ views, allowing me to realize how much more I can improve on. After the debate, I had came to a conclusion that I would further improve by making more of an effort in debates, and really putting myself out there, and be ignorant of all self-judgements while I am in the spotlight.


11th grader Helen R.
Committee:  Jibukistan 2043

Q. What were your two biggest highlights from any aspect of the conference?

SHAWMUN was my very first MUN conference and I did not know what to expect, coming to such an astonishing school campus I realized this MUN conference would be an incredible experience.

My two biggest highlights from my SHAWMUN experience I’d say are having met fun and very talented people from all over the world, especially meeting some girls from Pearson College (they were AMAZING) and definitely discussing Jibukistan’s future actions towards the rebel group that was taking over Jibukistanian territory.

Q. What were your biggest successes during the conference?

Although I wasn’t feeling comfortable or confident I did manage to speak up four times and I still was alive by the end of the conference (half of the committee had been murdered).


10th grader Tianxiao X.
Committee: General Assembly – Illicit Arms Trade

Q. What were your biggest highlight from any aspect of the conference?

I raised my placard on mostly every issue being discussed and was recognized by the chair almost every time. I added the aspect of “international data monitoring and sharing on firearms transfer” to our resolution paper and it was agreed upon by all sponsors and signatories.

Q.  Describe how you have improved your MUN skills because of this experience.

I improved my public speaking skills by constantly giving speeches that are closely relevant to the issues being discussed prepared or unprepared. I improved my resolution writing skill by adding and wording clauses and subclauses on our resolution. I also improved my teamwork skills by cooperating with other people and sharing each other’s ideas.


11th grader Elliot W.
Committee: The Ministry of Magic

Q.  Describe your role and how you have improved your MUN skills because of this experience.

I was the delegate of Colombia in the Harry Potter-themed Security Council, and in this role I successfully infiltrated the UNSC as a secret death eater. This was challenging at times because it meant I was the “bad guy” of the committee but it was very enjoyable. Due to this, I had to speak a lot and in doing this I became more confident, concise and clear.


10th grader Jenny W.
Committee: General Assembly – Illicit Arms Trade

Q. What was your biggest highlight from any aspect of the conference?

I successfully persuaded several delegates to sign on a resolution with me as a sponsor. Several times I was recognized by the chair as soon as I raised my placard, and thus spoke for many times.

Q. What were your biggest successes during the conference?

My biggest success was that I actively talked to many delegates, advertised for our resolution, and got them to sign on it.


11th grader Chloe F.
Committee: General Assembly – Illicit Arms Trade

Q. What were your biggest successes during the conference?

After a few times up front, I felt that people began agreeing to my points almost immediately when I started speaking. I also enjoyed practicing my diplomatic skills when merging my resolution with two other blocks and maintaining my position as sponsor when doing so. I engaged with countries that were against our points and convinced some to join.

I think the most simple and useful thing I did was write down the main useful point each country talked about when they went up to the podium, if any. Later, I could spot which countries had the same ideas to mine and which countries might cause me problems, and was able to prepare accordingly.


11th grader Paula C.
Committee: General Assembly – Illicit Arms Trade

Q. What were your biggest highlights from any aspect of the conference?

The conference in general was an incredible experience. From the campus to the people we met to the conversations and discussions we were engaged in during the two days.

If I must choose two highlight of the SHAWMUN conference, I would say it is the shot of adrenaline you get when you hear your delegation’s name being called to speak, although you are fully aware it is your turn to stand up because you asked for it. Your feet tremble and you feel everyone’s eyes on your back; however, once you start speaking and say with a timid voice “Dear… Dear fellow delegates”, the words start flowing from your mouth like a river against the one-minute speaker time.

The second highlight is the people you get to know. Being part of the Think Global School community I am already surrounded by wonderful people 24/7. However, it is very easy to get caught in the “TGS Bubble” and forget that there are plenty of other teenagers out there with similar and very different perspectives as you. Their experience, knowledge, and passion while standing in front of the rest of us inspired me to try my best to be at their level.


11th grader Pablo H.
Committee: Historical Crisis – The Berlin

Q. What were your biggest highlights from any aspect of the conference?

I believe that this conference has boosted my confidence in debating outside the TGS bubble. The committee that I was in was quite small, so I had the chance to speak extensively.

Q. What were your biggest successes during the conference?

The public directive that I wrote was the only one that passed in the two days of peace talks. I was able to confront the other very good delegates in my committee and felt like our either alliances or conflicts brought value to the debate.

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A passion for travel. A strong academic record. And the desire to improve the world as you experience it. If this sounds like you, you just might be our ideal candidate! Start your application with a five-minute inquiry form - you never know where you might end up.

It all starts here.

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