The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), along with New York-based Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., has brought the Model United Nations to schools in Tampa. Originally, only four high schools were participating and only as an extra-curricular activity. Now, over 50 teachers teach the Global Classrooms curriculum to students in over 120 classrooms in 35 Tampa schools. The program has the supported of Tampa schools District Social Studies Supervisors Dennis Holt and Martha Ford, as well as Tampa schools administrators, University of South Florida, and University of Tampa.
The Model United Nations program of Global Classrooms was developed by the UNA to enhance student understanding of international issues. Their hope is to develop strong leadership and critical-thinking skills in our youth, needed to shape a globally informed workforce in the future. To that end, a special Model UN teachers training program was recently developed that includes global trade, finance and development.
Global Classrooms deal with such critical world issues as human rights for refugees, prevention of nuclear terrorism, global economics, post-conflict transition, and UN Security Council reform — the same issues world diplomats deal with daily in the United Nations. It is an excellent educational opportunity for students in the Tampa schools.
Tampa schools participation increased in the Model UN program after the April 2006 conference, held at the Tampa Convention Center. More than 500 high schools and 600 middle schools participated in the conference of Global Classrooms.
Ambassador William H. Luers, president of the UNA-USA, addressed the Tampa schools students and students from other areas within the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Public Schools. Luers noted that children today must learn about the world to be prepared for tomorrow. The younger the child, the more open minded he or she will be.
Another speaker was Shaun King, former quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, current player for the Detroit Lions, and a favorite with Tampa schools’ students. Like Luers, King wants to see young people use all that talent they have. He believes it truly makes a difference, especially for children of single-parent and/or disadvantaged families.
The UNA-USA is a not-for-profit organization that develops innovative programs to engage Americans, especially the children, in issues of global concern. It promotes educational and humanitarian campaigns, as well as policy and advocacy programs. The UNA’s mission is to allow people to make a global impact at a local level.
The Model UN program would not be possible without the support of business. Merrill Lynch has donated more than $37 million in 2005 to charities with educational organizations receiving more than half. They are responsible for bringing the April Model UN conference to Tampa and underwrote the cost of implementing the program in the Tampa schools.
Together, the UNA and Merrill Lynch hope to bring the Model UN experience to urban public schools across the nation, as well as a diverse array of schools around the world.
It is a fact that the U.S. is losing its world economic edge by falling far behind other countries in preparing its youth for the global world issues of tomorrow. With programs, such as the No Child Left Behind that concentrates only on reading and mathematics skills, the children of the U.S. are missing an opportunity to know about the world and its issues. Bringing the Model UN program to students in areas like the Tampa schools is an essential step. Hopefully, more Tampa schools will participate in the future.