UNA-USA’s 13th Annual Global Classrooms International Model UN Conference Commences at UN Headquarters

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Nearly 2,500 Students from 23 Countries Take their Seats at the UN Guest Speakers Include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Celebrity and Youth Activist Monique Coleman, and UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth

Students today care about the world beyond the borders of their neighborhoods, cities, and countries.

Nearly 2,500 high school students from 23 countries around the world are taking the seats used by actual UN de`legations in UN General Assembly Hall for today’s Opening Ceremonies of the United Nations Association of the USA’s (UNA-USA) Global Classrooms® International Model UN Conference. The Opening Ceremony includes addresses from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth, and Monique Coleman, UN Youth Champion and actress known for her role in the High School Musical films.

“Thousands of young, intelligent minds from around the world are gathering in historic General Assembly Hall today to hear from the Secretary-General, and begin their three-day Model UN experience,” said UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for these students to experience the important work of the United Nations hands-on. Their participation in this conference helps build a strong relationship between them and the UN, and prepares them for a future of continued engagement.”

The conference program is designed to engage and empower today’s bright young minds as they take on the world’s biggest challenges. Committees and debate topics for this year’s conference include: the 2012 UN Conference on Climate Change (also known as Rio+20); responsible fisheries; women, peace and security; and protection of children from violence, exploitation, and abuse. Prominent U.S. and UN officials will speak to the students in committee, as well as leaders from the NGO sector, including Ocean Explorer and Founder of Plant a Fish Fabien Cousteau.

“Students today care about the world beyond the borders of their neighborhoods, cities, and countries,” said UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden. “They are highly engaged with international issues, and have ideas for making the world a better place. These next three days will showcase the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they possess to solve global problems.”

This is the 13th year of the conference, one of the largest Model UNs in the world, which runs through Saturday. The conference Opening Ceremony will be webcast live 6-7 p.m. at http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/; sessions will occur over Friday and Saturday at the Grand Hyatt at Grand Central. In addition to the students, the event will involve more than 300 teachers and 120 staff volunteers from 52 colleges and universities, including several from the New York area.

Global Classrooms Model UN has amazed schools around the globe with its ability to cultivate global literacy, leadership skills, and attitudes necessary for active citizenship, showing that students deeply care about the world outside their local community. In Model UN, students role-play as ambassadors from UN member states, interest groups, and nongovernmental organizations in a simulation of the United Nations.

Watch the Global Classrooms Model UN Documentary “Decorum” at http://www.unausa.org/decorum.

Tweet This: Nearly 2,500 students are at the #UN this week tackling tough issues like #sustainability w/ @GCModelUN! Learn more: http://bit.ly/Kq9iQ3

Ban Ki-moon & @gimmemotalk welcome 2,500 students at the #UN today for @unausa's #GCModelUN conference! Learn more: http://bit.ly/Kq9iQ3

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Joseph Catapano

The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), a program of the UN Foundation, is a membership organization dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations. UNA-USA works to accomplish its mission through its national network of chapters, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. UNA-USA and its sister organization the Better World Campaign are the single largest network of advocates and supporters of the United Nations in the world. For more information on UNA-USA, visit http://www.unausa.org/.

Global Classrooms is UNA-USA’s innovative educational program that engages middle school and high school students in an exploration of current world issues through interactive simulations and curricular materials. In 1999, Global Classrooms was created to bridge the gap in the Model UN community between experienced programs and traditionally underserved schools worldwide. The program cultivates global literacy, life skills and attitudes necessary for active citizenship by: engaging students in the exploration of international issues and institutions; supporting educators with professional development and innovative learning resources; and enriching communities by nurturing respect for diverse perspectives. For more information on Global Classrooms, visit http://www.unausa.org/globalclassrooms/.

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit http://www.unfoundation.org.

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