Young debaters turn out model United Nations win

United front: St Patrick’s MUNA team Lauren Breen, Leonardo Nosatti and Christopher Breen with teacher Jennie Smith.

A team of students from St Patrick’s College Sutherland emulated the negotiating skills of UN Secretary-Generals’ Ban Ki-Moon and Antonio Guterres to win the Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA) held at NSW Parliament House at the end of May.

The three Year 11 students – Christopher Breen, Lauren Forrester and Leonardo Nosatti – competed against 19 other schools from the Sydney and Illawarra regions.

Now in its 20th year, MUNA provides a forum for students to develop and practice their public speaking skills while debating topical world issues. Each team is sponsored by a local Rotary Club and given a country to represent, which they have to research.

After being assigned Japan, the St Patrick’s College team set about finding out as much as possible about their country and when the day of MUNA arrived they were ready to put their best debating skills to the test.

Dressed in the national costume of Japan, they also had to argue a series of resolutions covering a range of topics. Some of these included introducing a moratorium on the death penalty, elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls and raising the shortage of organ donors world-wide while eliminating the illegal sale of organs.

St Patrick’s teacher and coordinator of the team, Jennie Smith, said the students had to argue these issues from the point of view of the country they were representing and not from their personal view. “This required dedicated research and often meant suspension of their own beliefs and attitudes.”

Principal Libby Denny said the three students have been dedicated debaters since Year 7 and their success was an affirmation of that dedication.

“It was also just reward for their hard work and ability to accept challenges,” Ms Denny said.

As a result of their win they will now attend the National MUNA in Canberra in August, which will include a visit to Government House, meetings with Embassy officials and the opportunity to debate in Old Parliament House over two days.

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