Over 150 International Students Took Part in VALMUN 2015

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ASV hosted it’s third annual VALMUN conference on the weekend of November 20 – 22. It was the largest conference to date seeing over 150 students participating. Visiting schools including Oporto British SchoolIzmir Middle School from TurkeyInternational School of LuxembourgAmerican School of Madrid, and Cambridge House arrived on Friday November 20 and were quickly guided by admin staff to their committee rooms after receiving their official badges. Saturday morning began with an official opening ceremony led by secretary general Carlos Guemes and ASV Director Michael Smith. We were honoured to have Mr. Byron Perez from the UN BASE Valencia as the keynote speaker share his encouraging words with the delegates.

Throughout the day the delegates debated the real world issues facing each committee. In the evening the students received a special SKYPE call from Gabo Arora a UN Senior Advisor who is creating award winning UN sponsored virtual reality documentaries to raise awareness about global issues. On Sunday all participants gathered for G.A. debates at the UN base Valencia where we were treated exceptionally by the staff there. After the closing ceremonies and awards the students enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun on the grounds of the base. ASV student leaders and organizers were very please with the weekend’s activities and are thankful for all of the support the office and maintenance staff at ASV provided, As well as we are forever grateful to the UN Base staff members and Virginia Falces for hosting us on the final day.

VALMUN offered to students “the opportunity to understand how diplomacy”, ASV director Michael L. Smith explained. “By participating in VALMUN, students also improve their problem solving skills and the search of balanced and effective solutions”. Current themes such as the migration of refugees from Middle East to Europe, the re-opening of combat operations in Afghanistan, or the dispute over militarized islands at the southeast of China were discussed in VALMUN. According to Mar Hernández, student in 12th grade and Co-Secretary General, “everyone worked very hard to achieve what basically you are trained to do solve world issues, and I think everyone really did a great job”. His colleague Carlos Güemes, also in 12th grade and Co-Secretary General, added that “debates were very productive. Topics were chosen in order to be easy to research and students managed to get better results.”

Human Rights, Environment and Cybersecurity, main discussion topics on VALMUN 2014

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The American School of Valencia hosted VALMUN 2013, a Model United Nations conference, from November 22 to 24. 2013.  Fifty-five students from ASV and three other international schools met for a challenging extracurricular activity where they improved their knowledge of global issues, international relations and diplomacy.

 From November 21 to 23 American School of Valencia hosted the conference VALMUN 2014, an academic simulation of the United Nations. For three days one hundred students coming from schools in Valencia, Madrid and Oporto, as well as the ASV Delegates, acted as diplomatic representatives discussing resolutions on issues such as the situation of refugees in Middle East, the rise of militias and terrorist groups in central Africa and the impact of new technologies on global security.

VALMUN 2014 had four different committees (Environmental, Human Rights, Disarmament and Security Council) in which delegates discussed two preassigned topics. VALMUN General Secretary Francis García explained that “each country should come to the conference with something written down that pretty much it is what that country believes in about that issue. Then they had to negotiate and compromise in order to form a union between countries so the resolution could pass and a solution for the topic could come true.”

By participating in VALMUN, students in grades 8 and 9 had their first experience in an MUN conference and they usually need some time to master the proceedings. “The first stage during lobbying you could see certain students staying with their schools, or the people they know, in this comfort zone”, Francis García described. “Eventually, especially Saturday afternoon, more students were raising their hands, they wanted to make their points.”

Useful skills for High School and University
VALMUN aims to educate students about international relations, diplomacy and the UN agenda. According to Francis García, students earn important skills like “how to research, how to speak publicly, how to come up with creative solutions to different problems. Sometimes a 7th grader is not required to do that during the school.

ASV Teacher and VALMUN coordinator Ms. Susan Belmonte added that “ASV delegates were very impressed with the other schools and their preparation and I think that in the future, with this experience, they will work very hard for MADMUN or eventually THIMUN when they are in 11th and 12th grade.”

Mr. Ismet Traljic, Chief of Service Management of the UN Support Base in Valencia, was the keynote speaker of the Opening Ceremony scheduled on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 9:30. On Sunday morning the delegates visited this base and learned about the role the technical support offers to all the UN missions around the world.

 

VALMUN 2013. Young Experts on International Relations

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The American School of Valencia hosted VALMUN 2013, a Model United Nations conference, from November 22 to 24. 2013.  Fifty-five students from ASV and three other international schools met for a challenging extracurricular activity where they improved their knowledge of global issues, international relations and diplomacy.

One of the goals of VALMUN is to “develop academic and leadership skills based on a simulation of the United Nations model of governance and leadership”, explained ASV’s Director, Mr. Michael Smith. Each student serves in the role of a UN delegate from an assigned country and takes part in one of the committees where diverse resolutions are discussed following UN protocols.

The VALMUN delegates focused their work on two committees: Human Rights and Disarmament. Delegates debated a myriad of topics that included nuclear disarmament, the spread of chemical weapons in Syria, combating HIV/AIDS and the protection of human rights in sub-Saharan Africa and Arab Spring countries. The conference began with a preliminary meeting of both committees on Friday and continued at ASV with more debates and team building activities on Saturday.

The Chief of Security of the United Nations Support Base in Quart de Poblet (Valencia), Ms. Carmen Estrella, was invited to speak at the Opening Ceremony on Saturday.  Ms. Estrella brought a wealth of experience and knowledge about international relations and peace-keeping missions to the conference, where she highlighted the role of UN today as: “Bringing everyone to the table to make sure that conflicts are resolved. Students are very smart and they understand that if there is a conflict, the most reasonable answer is dialog. The UN wants countries to talk, this is our goal”.

The VALMUN General Assembly and Closing Ceremony were hosted on Sunday by the UN Support Base in Quart de Poblet (Valencia), which provided an additional air of authenticity to the proceedings. The delegates also had an opportunity to tour the communication facility and learn about the coordination of UN peacekeeping missions across the globe.

Leading the MUN way in Valencia

VALMUN is the first Model United Nations (MUN) conference organized by the American School of Valencia. Supported by the MUN Coordinators, Ms. Susan Belmonte and Mr. Scott Devore, senior students prepared and led this event by supporting their Middle School classmates. According to VALMUN Secretary General and ASV twelfth grade student Mr. Carlos Sala Franch, “We have experience attending other MUN conferences so we were teaching 7th, 8th and 9th grade students how to lobby, how to debate, and how to follow UN protocols.”  Ms. Mar Pujadas, who served as the Chair of the Disarmament Committee said, “As the conference went by, we got more participation; delegates were more engaged and confident.”

“This was an exciting opportunity to see so many students, from ASV and the three other participating international schools, so engaged in looking at and debating some of the key issues facing the world”, Mr. Smith commented. “They’re going to love it and they’re going to stay in it”, Ms. Estrella added. “I’m sure that young students will want to repeat want this experience and will be more committed with what’s going on in the world as a result of participating in MUN.”

In addition to the American School of Valencia, the VALMUN 2013 delegates also represented the American School of Las Palmas, the American School of Madrid and Cambridge House Community College, a British School based in Rocafort (Valencia).