A Transforming Experience –  Model UN in Peru

Alberto Varela is an MUN advisor from Lima, Peru and has been involved with Model UN for 4 years.  For 40 years, Alberto has been teaching subjects including English, Social Studies, and Philosophy. He has also participated in the  World School Debating Championships in Singapore and Lima.  

It all began one rainy day in May, when a very close friend of mine told me about an organization from the UN that I should visit in Lima, Peru. At the time, I paid very little attention to the invitation. I had been teaching Social Studies for 10 years – a comfortable situation, in which the students in my class loved my way of teaching. I was very happy just doing that and needed nothing else in that moment.

Eventually, the day of the invitation came, on a day I did not expect to have a transformational experience. Like any other day, my friend met me, picked me up, and together we drove to the UN headquarters in Lima.

The UN headquarters in Lima consists of an old building that used to be an orphanage close to the ocean. In the office, a man of approximately 45 years old and his young colleague were waiting to share their thoughts with me. Though I initially expected a short, brief conversation, I learned much more than I expected. When the young man began talking about the Model United Nations, his words were so full of passion, I couldn’t stop listening to everything he said. I thank Alfredo, the young man who started this passion for MUN in me.

MUN has transformed my way of teaching. It has given my students and myself chances to get involved in global topics, understand different aspects of the subjects and give solutions for important issues. It has given us a great variety of communication abilities and critical thinking. My students and I now have a sense of commitment in this new kind of learning process. With this new tool, I am no longer the center of the learning process, they are. This journey has not been easy, but it has helped me open to new perspectives of life. Model UN has helped me meet outstanding young leaders who have taught me what education really is.

I work for Colegio Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Carmelites, in Lima, and I have to say without hesitation that the school I have been teaching for the last 33 years is not the same since the Model UN became an institutional activity. We have a MUN club with about 120 members each year, and participating in conferences organized by schools here in Lima is now part of our yearly program. This has led us to win several Best Delegation awards. Our delegation has also had the chance of participating in the 2 last HarvardMUN conferences in Boston. Next year, we will be flying to Philadelphia for ILMUNC conference and to New York.

As you can see, Model UN has completely changed our lives.  It has transformed them, enriched them, and enlightened them. Thanks to everyone that has made this possible – especially Alfredo, Christian and Jose Luis and obviously, my wife and children who support me in this incredible adventure.

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