In-depth research on the issues within Jamaica and Belize, along with possible solutions for both regions, was presented Wednesday by University of the Virgin Islands students at the Model United Nations Competition on the St. Croix campus.
The sixth annual Model U.N. competition allowed eight students to present their findings on the major issues facing Jamaica and Belize to the Model U.N. board and judges.
Sonia Boyce, mistress of ceremonies, called the Model U.N. an auspicious event and told the eight students it’s more than just a competition, but also a chance for the scholars to inform the public on their thrilling research. “You have the opportunity to take it to the next level,” Boyce said, adding that she took part in the competition when she was a student.
UVI President David Hall said he loves that fact that the students are “engaged in fulfilling the true meaning and mission of UVI.” He said he admires the students’ participation in model U.N. “It is a committed exposure to global issues and a learning process where you have to present to a crowd,” Hall said.
Kula Francis, assistant professor of political science and Model U.N. advisor, said, “This is a learning process that extends far beyond what you can teach in a classroom.”
The competition began with the four students from the St. Thomas campus, who researched Jamaica for the competition. The students include Michael Charles, Desiree Lettsome, Christel Brandy and Verlyndah Rogers.
Charles, a mathematics major, did his project on Jamaica’s financial woes and its effect on education. He said the problem exists because of economic disparities, the deficit in the economy and education becoming less accessible. He suggested creating an economic advisory board could be a solution. “It would bring clarity to the advisory board and also draft reports,” Charles said.
Lettsome did her research on homophobia in Jamaica. Lettsome urged the Model U.N. to help local partners and organizations to monitor human rights abuse. A social science major, Lettsome said educating the kids at a younger age could help censor the problem surrounding homophobia. “We need to push for equal rights in Jamaica,” she said.
Brandy, a social science major with a minor in education, did her research on the fight against child abuse in Jamaica, presenting research on the reported cases of child abuse from 2007 to 2011. Brandy said creating a safe haven for kids such as a child protection system could benefit Jamaica.
Rogers, also a social science major, spoke about gender inequality in Jamaica. She said a solution could be increasing education and addressing equal pay for women in the workplace. “Equal hours, equal pay,” she said.
The presentation continued with the St. Croix students and their research on Belize. The students include Berle Wallace, Samantha Roberts, Sheniqua Slader and Akeem McIntosh.
Wallace did his research on the industrialization threats to the Mayan community in Belize. “Colonization robbed Mayans of their homeland,” Wallace said. He said the current government is depriving the Mayans their rights on their land.
Roberts spoke about her findings on the mirage of liberty for Belizeans and the feud for independence. She also spoke on the influx of Guatemalans, employment, trade and ecotourism industry.
Slader spoke on the different challenges youth are faced with in Belize. She said kids are dropping out of school because of the lack of preparation from teachers, living in low income families and lack of money. She said reorienting Belize education could be a sustainable development.
McIntosh, a secondary education major, did his research on drug trafficking.
After the students’ presentations, the eight judges critiqued their research, critical thinking, intellects and public speaking. Some of the judges asked the students what they thought about the project and what they found interesting.
McIntosh said, “In the end, it made me wonder if the drug trafficking will be the route for the Virgin Islands.” Rogers said it made her reflect on other Caribbean islands and realize that she loved her research on equal pay amongst women. She said she wished the judges focused more on that segment of her presentation.
In the end, students on the St. Croix campus was the overall winners for this year Model U.N. Rogers came in first place and Wallace came in second for having the best presentations.
Wallace also came in first place for providing the best responses and Roberts came in second.
All of the students received a certificate and a trophy made by Jan Mitchell of Mitchell Larsen Studio.
The event is cosponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and West Rotary Club on St. Croix. According to the organization, more than 400,000 middle schools, high school, college and university students worldwide participate in Model U.N. every year.