On Friday 18 March, our Model United Nations students set out for the grand setting of the Oxford Union to debate and find a resolution to the issue of global vaccination against Covid. The Oxford Union is a world-famous debating society that has been host to countless illustrious speakers throughout the course of its history. 90 students gathered from various local schools, with 19 from d’Overbroeck’s, including the indefatigable Chairs Eliza, Felix, and Naomi. They presided for two hours and never faltered. They took command, controlled the flow of the debate and, in short, made sure it was a roaring success.
Model United Nations’ structures and procedures are not easy to grasp, and only a handful of non-d’Overbroeck’s students were familiar with them. Knowing that we were going to run an event where few students really knew what to do was a challenge. Fortunately, our students were up to the task. They produced information for all to use, they planned carefully, and we did a dummy run of our own beforehand. There was much discussion about how to make the event true to the style of the Model UN but at the same time accessible to all. Credit here must go once again to Eliza, Naomi, and Felix, who, along with year 9 and 10 students, worked out a way to simplify procedures for everyone to follow.
The conference itself was wonderful. It was broken into distinct stages, where students had to discuss and amend a resolution prepared beforehand. At each stage, students discussed the finer points earnestly. Was it possible to force parents to allow their children to be vaccinated? What about the impact that long Covid has on children? Should we allow exemptions on religious grounds? The room was buzzing with it all.
The last stage was the voting. For each clause in the resolution that they wanted to change, students had to give speeches, answer each other’s questions, and gain a majority vote from all delegates in order to get their amendment passed. Each time an amendment passed there was tremendous applause; each time something was voted down there was silent cheering on one side and silent seething on the other. The last stage was a vote on the resolution as a whole. The room went quiet as the voting placards were raised, and then, at the moment everyone realised that a majority had been achieved, there was cheering.
Afterwards, I asked Eliza, Felix, and Naomi how they felt. “I loved chairing,” said Felix. “It was so jaw-dropping when we first walked into the Oxford Union and saw everyone.” He then added, “It was super fun to control the debate and discuss the resolution and topics.”
Naomi agreed. “It was so cool to get to chair a meeting with so many delegates and in such a beautiful and historically-significant building.” Eliza nodded vigorously. “I feel that it was an honour to chair an event here, and share a space with so many amazing people.”
I think the honour is ours, though. It is wonderful to have such dedicated and talented students. A huge and heartfelt ‘well done’ to all.