Camp and compromise: Indiana University hosts mini United Nations

  • June 10, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- High school students from around the U.S. and overseas are learning the art of diplomacy this week at an Indiana University Bloomington summer camp.

“Sports camps are great,” said Maneet Singh, a 14-year-old from New Delhi, India. “But the world needs solutions to its problems. I want to be a politician, and this is where I can learn how to do it. That’s more important to me than cricket or football.”

Singh is one of 39 teenagers attending the IU Model United Nations Summer Camp. It is now in its second year and attracting an increasingly diverse group of campers, including about 20 from New Delhi. The camp, sponsored by IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, features discussions about world issues, prominent guest speakers and opportunities for the teens to play the role of ambassadors debating in mock U.N. General Assembly sessions.

“At a time when there are so many trouble spots around the world, it is inspiring to see students intent on solving problems around a table instead of at the end of a gun,” said camp director Susan Siena, a member of the SPEA faculty.

Experts on diplomacy are among this year’s speakers: former U.S. Foreign Service officer Jeff Tunis; South Asia scholar Sumit Ganguly; and former Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi. The weeklong camp culminates in a U.N.-style debate about the international response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. Seminars on the more intricate aspects of diplomacy -- parliamentary procedure, research and resolution writing -- are led by top college students from IU’s Model U.N. team.

That IU connection was what first attracted Maneet Singh, who learned about the camp from a teacher.

“The campus is so beautiful,” Singh said. “It is huge, clean and so very different from New Delhi.”

But in the hallways between programs, the teens from India find out that they have much in common with the U.S. students, comparing high school rules on cell phones and soft drink machines. They also bond away from the camp at the Briscoe Residence Hall, sharing meals at Bloomington’s ethnic restaurants and sampling the attractions at the Indiana Memorial Union.

For more information about Model United Nations at Indiana University, visit the program's Web page.

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Model UN counselors

IU students and camp counselors, from left, Landon Davison, Alexzandra Smith and Kelsey Cooper lead a Model U.N. discussion.

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Model UN students

Students take part in a Model United Nations session at IU Bloomington.

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Media Contacts

Jim Hanchett

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs
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