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Model United Nations delegates tackle COVID-19, other global challenges
The FIU Model UN high school conference was held March 6-8 before social distancing guidelines were in effect at FIU.

Model United Nations delegates tackle COVID-19, other global challenges

April 8, 2020 at 4:20pm

Just a week before the university transitioned to online learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, the FIU Model United Nations team hosted its annual high school Model United Nations Conference (FIMUN).

The pandemic was certainly on the delegates’ minds.

“We were so lucky to have FIMUN take place just before the pandemic escalated in Miami-Dade. [The program] offered guidance to students at the opening ceremony regarding cleanliness and how to adapt,” said Alex Anacki, political science and international relations major and director-general of the conference. “Delegates introduced [the coronavirus] into speeches, and developed solutions for the training of medical professionals with the needs of the COVID-19 crisis in mind.”

Some solutions offered by the delegates included tapping into the pool of internationally trained doctors in the United States waiting to complete their licensing; training health care professionals and mobilizing them to vulnerable rural areas in developing nations with the help of nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders; and establishing a shared scientific database to facilitate the exchange of information pertaining to the virus and effective treatments across borders. 

“Going into the conference we did not explicitly strategize on focusing the debate toward the pandemic, given that we were still in the early stages of development here in the U.S. However, [we] made a point to address the sensitivity of the issue,” explained Isabella Perea, biological sciences and interdisciplinary studies major and director of the World Health Organization committee.

For 32 years, the FIU High School Model United Nations (FIMUN) has served as the leading conference in its category throughout the south and this year, it hosted more than 400 high school students from across the country.

Centered around the theme “Legacies of Leadership,” FIMUN 32 explored how leadership can influence others to become catalysts of change in the world.

“In trying times like these, the global leaders [who] will help curb the spread of coronavirus are not the ones who treat fighting the virus like a competition with other countries. The leaders [who] will end this pandemic are the ones who know how to work well with other nations to create an effective international response to this crisis,” said Alexander Sutton, a senior at Coral Gables Senior High who attended the conference. “FIMUN trained me and all the other students who were there to be the good kind of leader, that responds to crises like coronavirus with diplomacy instead of grandstanding.”

Alongside the coronavirus discussions, other topics of global importance were also addressed. Topics like food security, the rights of persecuted minorities and access to mental health care were debated and solutions were examined. 

“Events like FIMUN shed light on the positive impacts that can be reached through diplomatic discussions about significant dilemmas affecting our community and the world,” said Mariana Nava, an international relations major.

Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell kicked off the conference and highlighted the importance of diplomacy and leadership.

“The congresswoman has been a strong thought leader in the realm of international relations, and we heard again and again from our students how inspired they were by her remarks,” Anacki said.

FIMUN 33 is scheduled to take place in early 2021.

“FIMUN has been a conference where high school and middle school students can come together and exemplify leadership, diplomacy and hard work,” said Pierina Anton, secretary-general of the conference. “These same values are what drive our FIU Model UN team to reach new heights, and I could not be prouder to share those values with our community, both in and out of Miami.”