As part of the Diplomacy and International Communications in English Major, Darca students from Darca Begin Gedera have recently taken part in a series of Model UN conferences. The conferences are held about every two months throughout Israel. They are organized by Debate for Peace, a US American Embassy funded program that is part of the Interfaith Encounters Association. The focus of the program is building lasting and meaningful relationships among the various sectors of Israeli society while also providing a real life platform for students to implement negotiation and debate skills. All of the conferences are held entirely in English, which also allows the students to use their public speaking and leadership skills.
The conferences require preparation, research and practice. Tomer Dovzhenko and Eliana Etingen, seniors in the Diplomacy program at Darca Begin, first participated in MUN as 11th graders after being encouraged by their teacher to take part in the conferences. They enjoyed the academic challenge, as well as the social aspect. Since then, both have taken on the responsibility of starting the MUN club at their school. For Tomer Dovzhenko, 12th grader at Darca Begin in Gedera, MUN has become a way of life. He has won international awards, as well as a scholarship to Jerusalem Peacebuilders Summer Program.
“MUN has become my favorite hobby since I started going to conferences last year. Model UN is a great way to improve myself in skills that are necessary for real life. Also, I have a lot of fun while doing it. Thanks to MUN I’ve been able to meet people and build friendships that I may not have been able to without this program. After the first year of participating in and succeeding in conferences, our teacher Ilyse encouraged Eliana and I to open the school’s MUN club, in order to give more students in our school the opportunity to be a part of what we have been a part of.”
Students from various backgrounds from all sectors of Israeli society participate in the program. Muslim, Druze, Christian, and religious as well as secular Jews engage in debate and discussion on topics ranging from Reform in Religion, Extremism, The Use of Drones, Crypto Currency, Immigration, and Social Media in Education. Each student represents a particular country, and researches and adapts that country’s position to prepare for the conference. Once there, the students sit according to committee and engage in procedure including debate, discussion and writing resolutions to address the issue at hand. Eliana Etingen, 12th grader at Darca Begin High School hopes that the MUN club that she and Tomer started will be the start of larger trend, and include more Darca schools in the future:
“Thanks to our teacher, my partner Tomer and I were able to make our dream come true and establish the very first MUN club in our school, a club we run by ourselves. We have over 20 members from grades 10-12, and enjoy teaching them how to succeed at the conferences. I truly believe this club is just the beginning of something new and exciting for our youth, and hopefully it will continue to thrive years after Tomer and I graduate.”
– Ilyse Ben Zagmi, Darca Begin Gedera