By Katie Slavnik
Casual dinnertime banter between Cade Martin, an 11th grader from Chesterfield, and his father, originally sprang from Cade’s natural interest in history. Over time, these conversations evolved to include lively discussions about many topics such as current events and world politics. This eventually led Cade to get involved in Model UN through his homeschool co-op, Richmond-based Athenian Academy.
What, exactly, is Model UN? For three years, Cade has taken a class created and sponsored by Joyce Rodgers that casts him as a delegate for a particular country. He writes a paper that centers around what he learned about that country as well as its position on a chosen topic. Any topic or issue is fair game: environmental, political, social or economic. Before the conference begins, the position paper is drafted and submitted to the committee chairs.
Once Cade is at the UN Model conference, he spends about three hours during each session trying to devise workable solutions for the topics and issues that were chosen for the group before they arrived. Though the number of sessions can vary depending on the conference, most contain only two or three sessions and can be completed within a weekend.
Cade has won numerous awards including “Recognition for Excellence and Diplomacy” at the Model United Nations at William & Mary while representing Brazil, “Honorable Delegate” and “Best Position Paper” while representing Bahrain at Georgetown University’s Model Arab League and “Honorable Delegate” as a representative of Japan during the Model United Nations Conference at The Governor’s School.
Don’t think that Cade and his fellow delegates are always engaged in such serious and weighty issues though! They are typical teens and love to have fun after their formal sessions are finished. They’ve done lots of zany things to help pass the time like dancing the Harlem shake or trying to figure out how they’d deal with a unicorn or zombie apocalypse. Raiding other committee sessions is also high on their list of entertaining things to do.
As a goal-oriented teen, Cade sees college in his future, and plans to study both international relations and history while also nurturing his new-found interest in sociology. Attending the Model UN conferences has provided a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to visit campuses to discover if he feels a connection with them. Cade notes that the Model UN experience seems to be particularly suited to him. He’s always been adept at writing as well as analyzing events and totally immerses himself in the country that he represents.
Cade suggests tapping into bestdelegate.com as a good source of information, tips and articles about Model UN for those interested in pursing this fascinating hobby. Other notable sources of information include BBC Country Profiles, US State Department Background Notes and Library of Congress Country Studies.