Global issues like international taxation, immigration, and slave labor are not the typical concerns of middle schoolers. However, on Friday, December 2, 180 students from eight different schools were challenged to develop policies to address these matters at the Middle School Model UN Conference hosted by Christian Brothers Academy. Tasked with representing the United States on the Economic and Social Council, RCDS eighth grader Henry Bird stood out among the crowd with his unrivalled presentation on Uyghur persecution in China. His performance earned him the “Best Delegate” award for the third year in a row.
“Winning Best Delegate for three years in a row is an unprecedented accomplishment for an RCDS participant, and possibly in the history of the competition,” said Tom Scott, Head of RCDS’s History Department. “I am incredibly proud of our students who each conducted themselves with the highest standards and certainly exemplified the School’s Four Pillars – Kind, Honest, Responsible, and Respectful.”
Participating in a United Nations simulation doesn’t just shed light on the complexities of international relations and current events. It instills intangible skills that are strong predictors of success in life. Henry views his “Best Delegate” award as a testament to the value of relationship building.
“The whole point of Model UN is that there's a problem and you've got a group of people with many opinions and objectives,” Henry explained. “How do you solve it? Two big things are leadership and taking action. You have to lead the other nations to the resolution in your committee. Make sure that you’re approaching people to form alliances. Try to create a network of countries that you want on your side and make sure everybody is heard and feels like they're a part of it. Making connections with people and leading a team, that's important.”
Henry and his fellow teammates on the RCDS Model UN team prepared for weeks to develop strategies to achieve their policy goals. They conducted extensive research, wrote persuasive position papers, collaborated with others, and demonstrated composure under pressure when addressing their audience.
“I think you have to have some sort of confidence and level of ‘I know what I'm doing’ when you get up there,” Henry advised. “Secondly, you have to know your audience. Know who you're talking to and the position that you're trying to enforce. And then be prepared. You can't just go out there and say stuff on the spot. That won’t make the greatest impact.”
The essential life skills like leadership, collaboration and public speaking that Henry has described are nurtured from a young age at RCDS and are an important part of the School’s culture and curriculum.
“When you go to the podium a certain amount of times you get more comfortable with it,” said Henry. “I was in a class play every year from beginners [kindergarten] until 4th grade. In every lit class and LA class there is public speaking tied in. And then in language classes like French you often have to do skits in front of a group.”
His experience on the RCDS Model UN team helped Henry realize what he can accomplish when applying these skills. Next year, he hopes to attend a high school with robust Model UN and Debate programs to gain as much practice as possible.
- Awards & Accolades