Heidi Jackson ‘19 Receives Honorable Delegate Award at Model UN Conference

Heidi Jackson ‘19 Receives Honorable Delegate Award at Model UN Conference

As the tired chatter draws to a close, restless teens squirmed on the hard blue chairs, waiting to go home, but riveted by the voice of the figure standing on the award ceremony stage. Then, a name was announced, a pair of wide eyes turned into joy, and Heidi Jackson ‘19 climbed up to the stage as cheers erupted from the rest of the Westwood Model United Nations (Model UN) team.

Last week, a standard Model UN meet at LASA turned into a day of celebration as Jackson was awarded the prestigious Honorable Delegate award. Model UN, unlike most school events, isn’t competitive, and there is never a first place prize to strive for. Instead, the meetings focus on the peacekeeping values of the actual UN, such as compromising. Because of the driving nature behind these events, the ability to diplomatically create a solution is what’s measured as an award, making it harder for students to get recognized in the first place. The determination it takes to create a valuable solution for everyone takes much more energy than forcing a solution which only benefits oneself, which is why Jackson’s award is so prestigious.

“Learning how to compromise and having a conversation where you both have parts in speaking and you listen to each other doesn’t happen enough,” Jackson said. “This is what Model UN makes you do; it makes you listen; it makes you have to say ‘Okay, that’s what this person needs, that means I have to change my actions in order for them to be happy.’”

Although learning about peacekeeping tactics is an important part of Model UN, the main importance lies in becoming aware of various cultures. When students have to go to a meet, they represent a particular country. Countless hours of research and observation go into these meets, until the teams know their country’s culture, politics, and everything else that makes it unique. The education that Model UN creates allows the students to see through the prejudices created by ignorance and hate.

“[Being in Model UN] has definitely opened me up to seeing different biases, like if we have a news article and it’s about this horrible thing, there’s all these other horrible things,” Jackson said. “If you’re saying how horrible it is, why don’t you help? You’re not putting any action, you’re just criticizing. It also lets me be aware of other people; what they’re saying and the information I’m receiving so I can tell them what I’m thinking too and just have a cohesive conversation because a lot of the time that doesn’t happen.”

The overall benefits for Model UN, such as research skills and experience, are what attracted Jackson in the first place. For her, Model UN values such as thinking about other perspectives and caring for others appeal to her goals as an IB student.

“I’m a really competitive person,” Jackson said. “I really like debating, and I this is the best place where you can, because it’s real life debate. In real life, you have to consider other people, and others people’s position. You want to make sure that your interests are counted into the solution, but also other people’s interests, and figure out what the best way so everyone can be happy.”

Along with the Honorable Delegate award, Model UN awards the Distinguishable and Best Delegate awards measuring different aspects of public speaking and awareness of the discussed issue. Jackson represented Australia in the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in the argument about advanced biofuels. Discussing both the commercial gain and the environmental harms, Jackson was able to present her country in a way that was both demanding, yet respectful. Due to her negotiation of compromises between poorer countries and those who have been affected by climate change, she was able to attract the attention of the suits watching the meet.

“It’s fun to be recognized, because I worked really hard for it,” Jackson said. “But I also think that I can definitely improve. You know what to work on, and what you are good and comfortable with, so you can keep going forward.”