On January 26 and 27, over 300 students from across Alabama met at Birmingham Southern College for the 26th Junior United Nations Assembly of Alabama
(JUNA). JUNA is a student-run model United Nations Assembly for Alabama students in grades six, seven, and eight. Since 1991, JUNA has increased awareness of worldwide issues, demonstrated how the United Nations works, and emphasized the importance of diplomacy and problem solving among nations, peoples, and cultures.
In 2017, Highlands students had the honor to proudly represent the nations of Liberia and Italy. Our Italian delegates’ resolution tackled the issue of art and architecture preservation in light of the recent earthquakes in Italy. The Liberian resolution confronted the persistent issue of malnutrition throughout the country and around the globe.
Each resolution had to address either indirectly or directly many of complex issues and sensitivities in working through real U.N. procedures. They had to research the practical interworking of the various U.N. agencies to determine which agencies would be most likely to provide aid. They had to acknowledge existing and previous efforts to alleviate their chosen issue and communicate why there is a need for additional aid. Maybe most importantly, they had to tie their resolution with the U.N.’s stated Millennium Development Goals in order to increase their chances of successfully passing their resolution.
The crafted resolutions required depth of research and articulation as well as sustainability of the proposed solution and the solution’s replicability in other nations. It was imperative that the resolution involved citizen ownership in order to achieve follow-through and lasting enforcement.
Delegates begin researching each other’s resolutions and preparing detailed questions over a month before the assembly. Resolutions must hold up under intense scrutiny during committee and during General Assembly as selected “Defenders” face an intensive round of questioning. Defenders must have enough familiarity with their proposed resolution to deftly answer even the most complex and obscure questions.
The two day event tests the research, writing, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills of our students as well as exposing them to an unconventional public speaking opportunity. Bo Garrett, our Middle School chair, and Shara Kernan, our Learning Specialist, work with Highlands students from August to late January to ensure that each detail of the resolution is addressed and students are prepared to masterfully participate in this intricate and high-pressure event.
This year, our Liberian delegation was excited to receive one of JUNA’s Best Prepared Delegations as well as Outstanding Native Dress (thanks ENTIRELY to Michelle Perkins, our Family Center
Sixth grader and selected Security Council representative, Jaison Perkins, was honored as one of JUNA’s Best Boy Delegates.
Thank you to all of the Highlands parents, students, and faculty that made this a successful experience for our Highlands School delegates.