A UNique Class Experience

Jessica Ramoutar, A&E Section Editor

Model UN, a concept where students roleplay delegates of the United Nations and simulate such committees, is a class currently offered at John Adams High School [JAHS]. The course is run by M. Budhu, AP of social studies, fourth period in room 121 and dives into worldwide issues. It allows students to set foot into the world of politics by participating in tasks akin to those undertaken by the United Nations. Many students in JAHS were not aware of the course offering, and believed it to be an after-school program when it is, in fact, an elective class.  According to AP Budhu, to join, students must:

  • Be on track to graduate (have all regents and credits anticipated for your grade level)
  • Have an interest in the class
  • Have a level of dedication
  • Be willing to work hard

When asked how the class began, AP Budhu said, “I went to a college for a conference, and when I walked in I saw there were no students from my area. What we had to do was negotiate with other students who were from different backgrounds and understand the situations and conditions from the country they were assigned. This was my first initial exposure to the concept of being involved in a UN diplomacy. This changed the way I looked at it all because I stood there, seeing the demographics, I knew I wanted to do something. I was empowered to know that someone who may be the minority in this case can rise to the occasion despite their social or economic background.” His goal with the class is to create global citizens: students that are aware of issues both in the United States and globally, and to help kids understand and study other countries. He states, “When these kids leave high school, I want them to see how, in the real world, things that may not be right in front of them still affect them. The choices the UN makes can directly affect them and I want them to take away from this class how important it can be to have a global perspective.”  He continues, “This class grounded me with the reality of how John Adams is so diverse. The class reminds me daily of how many challenges these students face, how such experiences help make the lessons and their argument that much more dense. It reflects that not everyone has the same point of view and brings different sides to an issue that others might not have thought of.”

Upon asking for the opinions of the students in the class this year, Junior Davindra Budharm said, “It’s a unique class that offers a special opportunity to experience how the actual UN works as well as open our eyes to a potential career.” Amelia Pooran, a junior, commented, “It’s an amazing experience and intense.” The majority of students agreed on the class being rewarding in the sense that it encourages speaking.  With the various debates and seminars in the class, it allows those that lack communication skills as well as those who aren’t fast enough to raise their hand first, to talk; they have a chance to find their voice and, with that, be a potential advocate for their given country. Pooran stated, “It breaks me out of my shell to speak, which was always hard for me to do.” Junior Farhan Ekka agreed, saying, “It helps to make me a better speaker and helps my communication skills.” The class is beneficial both for those who are bold and like to speak, and to those with public speaking issues. Budharam said he “hates working with people, but this [class] allows us to work collaboratively with a group, so it can help with that issue of not wanting to work with a group versus working by myself.”

Model UN, according to Budharam, is a great chance to “meet kids who have the same work ethic and drive like I have.  There were lots of kids I didn’t know, but grew great friendships with from the little time we’ve been in class.” When talking to AP Budhu, he was  asked what was the most rewarding thing in the class, to which he replied, “Seeing the level of student ownership in the class and how these kids take the class and make it their own. I barely have to redirect them or intervene for them to carry on debates and talk amongst their peers. It honestly blows my mind the way these kids operate a classroom.” Upon interviewing students in the class and asking what their favorite thing is about it, Kenny Bustamante, a senior in the class, said, “We argue, but politely, and about specific topics, so we get to state our opinions but also back it up by advocating publically to the class.” Ekka added, “Within the debates we’re supposed to call out each other, especially when people are trying to fabricate their evidence to make their country look better, so it forces everyone to defend themselves as well as always be involved and listening and have legit evidence.” Pooran also commented saying, “I know I have the support from my fellow classmates to  push me harder.” Overall, this class will make you talk and drop you into a setting you may not be familiar with, but it will push every kid to break through an issue. The issue can be not wanting to talk or being shy, but it does push them to overcome it.

The track record for the class is impeccable. AP Budhu boasted proudly, “Every student that has been in my UN class has gone on to college. Those who finished their college careers have gone on to postgraduate and/or their field of choice.” He went on to discuss some previous students, stating that one “works in the district attorney’s office and another is in their last year of law school.” The class is beneficial for its free experience in dealing with world issues and politics, and as an added bonus, it looks great on a college application.

This class is one with obvious benefits, but it also comes with its due work. Students find the class invigorating, but want readers to know that it involves heavy research. It is an extended amount of research and dedication that you need. Fact checking and notetaking is a must.  You will face obstacles along the way, but it is a rewarding experience that gives you the tools you didn’t think you needed. Students said that while the class is unorthodox, it “challenges us to be better debaters.” AP Budhu’s wish for this class is to give students the opportunity to collaborate with model UN colleges and forge bonds and relationships that can help put them in a strong position after high school.

Model UN has proven to be a little-known program that packs a huge punch, contributing greatly to the school and deserving of recognition. Budharm said, “Mr. Budhu assembles a good group and takes them to the conference. With this effort, it is just a positive thing for the school.” This program clearly has its positives, from college applications to its known success rates. The opportunity to go to a conference and collaborate with other delegates and debate as well as gain insight to global issues and their possible solutions is invaluable.