Students from the homeschool-supporting Patrick Henry College in Virginia are launching pro-American, pro-family initiatives at the upcoming National Model United Nations after winning the top award at the annual event last year.
While many conservatives want to avoid or limit the U.N., the students take another approach.
“The United Nations is a reality of the 21st century. It’s not going away,” said one team participant. “Christians cannot just ignore its importance in the world today. It is an international body that will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, so it is crucial that we hone leaders with proper beliefs that can bring about reform internally.”
Students from the Christian school now are actively trying to raise support for their trip, a nominal expense for many publicly funded universities but a significant burden for a small, private institution.
The team must raise $6,000 to $8,000 to participate and members have taken on various independent fundraisers. Those who wish to help sponsor the outreach are asked to contact the school via an Internet link, referencing the Model U.N. work.
One of the targets of the campaign will be the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which threatens not only homeschooling rights but also traditional disciplinary methods.
Natasha Malik, a PHC sophomore who is on the committee that deals with the issue, plans to present a groundbreaking resolution to protect education-rights of parents abroad.
The Model U.N. is an academic simulation of U.N. procedure in which participants representing delegations from each of the 192 countries debate policies and draft resolutions on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to homeschooling.
While the National Model United Nations is a simulation, the resolutions developed at the event are passed on to the actual U.N. But the real influence occurs in mock committee sessions when students mingle with international students who often are unaware of concerns over life rights, national sovereignty, education rights and various other issues that the Patrick Henry team is committed to presenting.
Last year, among nearly 2,500 other international college students representing the best and brightest from more than 300 colleges and universities around the globe, Patrick Henry College took home the top award handed out: Outstanding Delegation.
Other competing colleges include the University of Cairo, University of Munich, University of California Sacramento, California State Polytechnic University, Catholic University of America, Goethe University, National Taipei University of Technology, Istanbul Bilgi University, Syracuse University-Maxwell School, Sarah Lawrence College and Germany’s University of Regensburg.
While other delegations from American schools and international universities draft resolutions to crack down on global warming, waive national sovereignty and create a global tax, PHC delegations offer resolutions to fight human trafficking, amend existing U.N. documents to allow nations to retain national sovereignty and promote homeschooling rights abroad.
One PHC participant recalled an experience in which the delegate from North Korea stood before the U.N. General Assembly Plenary and gave a blatantly anti-American, anti-Israel speech, and the audience responded with cheers.
The student, who represented the delegation from Luxembourg on behalf of Patrick Henry College, followed up with a pro-American, pro-West speech to the audience of 400-plus students from abroad.
“Participation in Model U.N. gives PHC students [an opportunity] to communicate their distinct philosophy of conservative realism in an idealistic international arena,” said Malik.
“Working on committees with more than 200 individuals that come from various backgrounds and hold different worldviews is a challenge. It’s also an opportunity for PHC students to implement the skills of leadership, communication, and the classical liberal arts education that we learn at PHC, in a secular environment.
“As Christians we are presented with the unique opportunity to share the Gospel with fellow students from around the world,” Malik said. “The relationships that we build over our week in New York continue into the school year, allowing our team to be a witness of Christ’s light and love to unbelievers searching for truth.”
Patrick Henry College funds numerous forensic competitions – the school consistently is a national competitor in debate – but it cannot allocate funds to the Model United Nations club in this year’s budget.
In the past, the Model U.N. team has been funded through independent fundraising initiatives.
“We are praying that God provides us with the money that we need to compete this year,” said a team member. “All we can do is to remain faithful and work hard to represent our ideals and our school to the best of our abilities with the opportunities that we are given.”