The international event NACEMUN: debates in English and multiculturalism

The international event MUN (Model United Nations) is a simulation in English of the United Nations debates, in which each participant from the different schools takes on the role of delegate of a country. The programme involves drafting resolutions and then debating them, with the objective of reaching a general agreement with the rest of the participants. Agora Sant Cugat International School was the first school in the NACE Schools group to participate in IMUN (Iberian Model United Nations) held in Lisbon in 2010-2011. An internal version, named AMUN (Agora Model United Nations), was then created at the school. The first event was in 2013, the following year Agora International School Barcelona joined the programme, and in 2015 they decided to “take the plunge” by extending the conference to all the schools in the NACE Schools group, under the name of NACEMUN.

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Participants in the 1st NACEMUN after collecting their diploma

We had the opportunity to interview Elena Degollada, teacher at Agora Sant Cugat International School and creator of the successful international event, NACEMUN.


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Elena holds a degree in English-German Philology from the University of Barcelona, though she combined her university studies with short and longer-term stays in the United Kingdom. She has dedicated practically her entire working life to teaching, which is also her passion. For the last few years she has combined the co-ordination of the MUN programme with her role as head of the foreign languages department at Agora Sant Cugat International School.

 


Q: Hello Elena. How did the idea of participating in IMUN on a school level come about? And the idea to develop AMUN?

A: Mr. Gandol, headmaster of Agora Sant Cugat International School, suggested that we attend the international event IMUN. I found it so interesting that I looked for a way that all pupils could participate in some type of United Nations simulation. The dual objective was that they were made aware of how a conference of this type works, and at the same time, it was training for the students who participate in other conferences in Baccalaureate. The experience was so successful that the next step was to take it to the entire international group and create NACEMUN.

 

Q: How many pupils participate from each school, and what preparation should they do in advance?

A: Around 10 4th ESO pupils from each school normally take part, as well as all the pupils from the same level at the host school. Before attending the conference they should undertake a thorough study of the country they are representing, they should prepare to draft resolutions, learn the procedures of Model United Nations sessions, and in addition, before the event they practice formal public speaking in English.

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Pupils working together on drafting resolutions

Q: What benefits are there for pupils who participate in NACEMUN?

A: There are many benefits. It helps them to interact with pupils from schools in the United Kingdom, France, and other parts of Spain; they learn to use very formal English; they improve their public speaking skills and acquire knowledge about today’s world. Furthermore, in having to work on and try to find solutions for real problems, they learn to understand and empathise with issues they probably weren’t previously aware of.

 

Q: And what does it contribute to the NACE Schools educational programme?

A: The project encourages the values as the NACE Schools educational programme. It promotes the values of openness, solidarity, integrity, commitment to the community. Similarly, it teaches more than academic content, and encourages the idea of educational excellence, to the extent that it develops the pupils’ communication abilities and social skills.

 

Q: What do the participants highlight most from this international event?

A: What they highlight most, and at the same time what surprises them most, is what a good time they have, even though at the start it might seem like lots of work and little fun. They also discover that formality is not at odds with entertainment, and that they can have a really good time doing serious work.

 

Q: What has creating the NACEMUN programme provided you with on a professional and personal level?

A: On a personal level I feel that I have learnt a lot, met lots of people, and achieved the satisfaction of seeing how my pupils also come to appreciate this type of events. On a professional level, I have had to balance the day to day of classes with organisation. Though it’s hard work, it’s been worth every minute dedicated to it.

 

Q: What do you think will be the future of NACEMUN?

A: Who knows? I see NACEMUN as something which will grow. Therefore, I suppose that in future editions perhaps we’ll incorporate other bodies such as the Security Council. Being ambitious, we could perhaps invite other schools to participate in our conference, making NACEMUN an international event recognised even outside the NACE group.

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Some of the pupils as chairs and co-chairs in the conference

Areteia welcomes the new academic year

We’d like to welcome the 2016/2017 school year! Another year on and Areteia opens its doors again, filling the school with life with the arrival of the new academic year. The headmaster of the school, Luis García Carretero, talks to us about what’s new for this new phase, the objective being to continue to grow and advance.

First of all, the headmaster assesses the 2015/2016 academic year, and defines it as a period full of successes:

“This year saw the consolidation of the educational modality Basic Vocational Training, something fundamental in order to attend to the diversity of our pupils. The first year of pupils graduated in Managing Outdoor Sports and Physical Activities, and the school began with the Sciences Baccalaureate, both of which were experiences met with great approval.”

“Many important moments stand out from the last academic year, such as the celebration of Children’s Day, the Christmas festival with the awarding of prizes and diplomas, Peace Day, Arts and Science Week, the end-of-year festival, the graduations, etc. Also worth mentioning is the school’s participation in the NACE events: International Music Week in Barcelona, NACEMUN in Castellón, the Academic Games in Villaviciosa and the Olympic Games in England.”

“Events such as the 1st Former Pupils Meetup, which brought together more than 100 pupils who have left Areteia during the 25 years that we have been in La Moraleja, together with the 4th Educational Innovation Day and the 1st Parents Meeting, were three moments of great open mindedness of the school, of connecting with new realities and accepting new challenges, like the “Areteia Emprende” conference programme, which included some outstanding speakers who showed their reflection and commitment to the pupils in ESO, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training. Lastly, we highlight the award given by NACE Schools in July to our colleague Rosalía Gómez Manzano, from Administration, in the category of “our values”, for being an example of commitment, efficiency and self-improvement for all the members of the educational community.”

After such a positive year, we expect no less from this new academic year we are welcoming. The fundamental objective is to better attend to and understand each pupil to help them grow.

For many it is a utopia, but we learnt a long time ago that utopia is good for moving forwards”, the headmaster assures us. In this sense, classes are divided into smaller groups in 3rd and 6th Primary to work in a more personalised way at both the midway point and end of this important stage.

In order to make the pupils the protagonists in the classroom, the school is developing the School Project, which will was presented in the Arts and Science Week in April: Mission GAIA, save the earth. This is a project which hopes to make Areteia an Eco school which is committed to protecting nature, our planet, and all the values this includes.

From among the most important new features for the 2016/2017 academic year, we emphasise the gradual introduction of new technologies as a way to improve learning. For example, through the platform Infantium via tablets which will be used in the classroom during the school day, as well as the new tablets model for 1st ESO.

Other new features this year come from the introduction of the LOMCE, enabling us to make the last few school years into phases focused on decisions about the future. The presence of a native teacher, to support the work of the teachers in the English Department and continue with the theme of a 100% pass rate in the Trinity exams last year, stands out.

There have also been some changes to our facilities. We believe that a school which is attractive and looked after is the first step in educating pupils to respect the environment and others. The Infant Zone has been refurbished with two grass areas, the pupils’ bathrooms have been improved, and we have planned the improvement of the pupils’ sports and leisure areas.

The new offer of the Excellent Workshops has been well thought out and planned based on the suggestions from families and pupils, and we have opted to expand our services in extracurricular activities, particularly in the field of psychopedagogy. In the second and third terms we will also offer certified training in the field of leisure and free time, which we will open up to schools in the area.

In short, the message is clear. Just as Luis García tells us: “Areteia is an opportunity for improvement, for growth, for evolution, for opportunities. Count on us: teachers, non-teaching staff, co-ordinators, heads of studies, management. We are at your disposal, we’re here for you, to make you better, freer, more responsible, fairer, more supportive, more competent. We are so glad that you’ll be forming part of the Areteia family. A new school year is a challenge, an occasion we cannot let escape, to be happier and to make others happier.”

Luis García Carretero

Headmaster of Areteia School

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