Invasion of Ukraine by Russia looms over annual academic event this week
It did not take long for real life to step right into real time at a popular annual academic event at Malden High School on Wednesday. The Model UN (United Nations), a yearly exercise where high school students take on the personas of UN delegates of various countries, has been on the calendar for the Malden High Social Studies Department all year. Little did anyone know that this week’s Model UN would coincide with the first war on European soil since World War II, as Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and the battle has been raging since then, into this week.
It was ironic that one of the first Malden High students-turned-delegates that asked for podium time was the representative from Ukraine. The discourse was directed toward the delegate from Russia, and it was straight to the point: “Stop bombing our country… and please go back to your own,” the Ukraine delegate said. Wednesday’s salvo at the Malden High Model UN was a perfect example of how real life can interject into real time when a historical event of the invasion of Ukraine occurs.
The Ukraine delegate directly tied the newly initiated war with the ceasing of any progress or continuity of education in that country, with the invasion bringing academic pursuits to a standstill.
“The Ukraine invasion by Russia was being discussed in all our History classes the past week, since it began,” said Malden High Social Studies Teacher Leader Kerri Veritas, who this year and for the past three years coordinated the Model UN participation at Malden High School. She said she was “not surprised” the issue carried over into the overall event’s discussions.
The theme of his year’s event is Global Educational Equity, and a lot of the tangential topics were related to delivery of academics in the face of the international COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 200 MHS students, primarily from the junior year History classes, participate in Model UN, and Veritas said it is a great tool to show real-life workings of an international humanitarian/governance organization, such as the United Nations. She explained that Malden High School contracts with the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNAGB), whose representatives were on hand all week at Malden High School to assist in the presentation and guide the participation in the event.
Included were UNAGB Education Director Emma Belza, Director of Development & Community Outreach Alex Bostian and Education Program Manager Alexander Beatty, among others on hand. “They do a tremendous job,” Veritas said of the UNAGB staff. UNAGB staff leaders were seen encouraging swift responses to a variety of opinions and statements made among the delegates, with over 40 students assigned to represent various nations at each of the multiple daylong sessions this week.
In a spirited debate on Wednesday, in one of the two sites, the MHS library, Beatty helped student-delegates break down the debates into which countries were able to offer assistance to other nations, and others who were seeking assistance – and in what forms. All of this was connected to the overlying thematic issue of Global Educational Equity.
“The Model UN is one of the activities our students really look forward to each year and it is such a valuable addition that enhances our curriculum,” said Malden High Principal Chris Mastrangelo. “We are grateful to Ms. Veritas and her colleagues in the Social Studies department for coordinating Model UN as well our partners at United Nations Association of Greater Boston for all of their assistance.”