Several KO students attended the Model United Nations at the Oporto British School, a private K through 12 school in Porto, Portugal from November 22-24. Students served as delegates representing the viewpoints of China, Iran, Israel, Venezuela, and Mexico and sat on several committees including the Security Council, Human Rights Council, Disarmament and International Security Committee, and International Court of Justice. Kingwood Oxford was the only American school in attendance. The seven other schools hailed from the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, and Sweden.
The committees, comprised of 175 students, tackled pressing international concerns that focused on resolving the armed conflict in Syria and introducing measures to implement long-term peace in the region, addressing the security threat in the region of Darfur, Sudan, and introducing measures to prevent the armament of outer space technologies. Working from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., students collaborated with their peers from other countries and struck up some friendships over dinners. All of the students prepared deeply and researched the topics prior to the conference so they were able to debate with great authority. Since the students are assigned to countries that they are not citizens of, they are able to consider the issues from different vantage points.
Stacey Savin, the advisor for Kingswood Oxford Model U.N. team said, “I am so proud of our students who were intrepid travelers and great diplomats within the Model U.N. conference and within the country of Portugal. There was some anti-American sentiment at the conference directed at our politics, not our students. In those cases, our students expressed that we have a great country with many differences of opinion.”
Prior to the Model U.N. event, the students explored the hilly, iconic sights in Lisbon including the Igreja de São Roque, the oldest Jesuit church in Portugal while enjoying some tasty local snacks like nata, a custard pastry. As the group meandered the coastline, they visited the seaside resort town of Sintra to tour the Pena Palace and Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe. They took excursions to the Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Monument of the Discoveries, an emblematic Portuguese monument along the Tagus River where many Portuguese navigators launched their explorations of the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries.