Who would have thought 400 middle and high school students debating their stance on global issues could be productive and beneficial? But that's exactly what happened at Shanghai Model United Nations XXII, or SHAMUN, hosted by Shanghai American School’s Puxi campus this month.
The student delegates simulated different committees of the United Nations and engaged in policy negotiations. For these researched speakers however, it was far from pretend.. As Alex F. '24, a SHAMUN admin, put it, "SHAMUN isn't a competition, it is where the future leaders of the world come and work together to solve the big problems in the world right now." Move over, UN, the kids are taking over.
With students from 16 schools around China participating, including students from Dalian and Beijing, this was one of the biggest SHAMUN conferences ever. And to make it even more special, all 400 students attended in person, a welcome break from the online events of the Covid era. But getting to this point wasn't easy. Planning for the event started about a year ago, when uncertainty about travel, closures, and rules of gathering kept pushing back the conference date.
Thankfully, though, restrictions were lifted, and gathering in person was once again allowed just like in the pre-Covid days. But then came too much of a good thing: as RSVPs rolled in, the number of attendees almost tripled from the anticipated 150 people to over 400. But SAS did what SAS does best: come together as a community to pull off the unthinkable. Teachers volunteered their classrooms, principals gave up their meeting rooms, and IT and cafeteria crew remained alert on standby. In other words, pulling off this year's SHAMUN was a whole school effort.
All the hard prep work paid off, though. With topics ranging from the prevention of human trafficking to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the delegates at SHAMUN passed more than 25 resolutions and hundreds of amendments. And they didn't just talk the talk; many students from both SAS Pudong and Puxi campus were awarded Outstanding Delegate and Honourable Mention awards. It's safe to say that these kids are way ahead of the curve when it comes to tackling global issues.
Middle schoolers who participated in SHAMUN also had the opportunity to learn and shine. According to Alex Z. ’25, many of them were new to MUN as well as speaking publically. However, with the help of their high school peers in the same committee, they slowly understood the issues through the debate process. "I think what is especially heartwarming is they leave the conference with a better understanding of the world and what's going on around the world right now," he said.
While students had a multitude of opportunities to practice their public speaking and debate skills, they walked away from the conference with some life lessons as well. Teresa C. ’25 shared that “MUN teaches you about picking your battles, prioritizing what’s important to you, and being reasonable to other people.” For Elaine S. ’24, MUN taught her how to see new perspectives. “Maybe you live in China or you’re from America, but when you have to take on the perspective of another country that you’ve probably never been to, then it broadens your horizons and makes you a more critical thinker. The MUN experience is really in line with SAS’s Learning Goals of being ethical global citizens.”