Oasis High School Model UN students hosted students from the Istek Belde Lisesi school in Istanbul, Turkey, and students from Canterbury School in south Fort Myers. Peter Ndiang'ui, the Oasis Model UN adviser, is on the front left. / SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS
Dr. Peter Ndiang'ui, Oasis High School Model UN adviser
A talented group of Oasis High School students has the whole world in their hands.
As members of the school’s Model United Nations team, they are learning about global challenges ranging from children’s rights to the environment. This weekend 14 team members are traveling to the Boston area and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their next conference.
“We have a very strong team of 20 to 25 students who are deeply involved in world issues,’’ said Peter Ndiang’ui, the Model UN Team adviser at Oasis. “It is a great tool for learning about the world and its history, geography, economics and other areas.”
Ndiang’ui said his team has won every conference they’ve attended this year in Miami, Orlando and Cape Coral. They have gone up against schools with bigger teams and teams that have more funding.
“We’re a public school,” he said. “At a Model UN conference at Johns Hopkins University last year we won against schools from Canada, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and others. We won the award for the best school with a small delegation.”
They are turning heads in the various conferences they have competed in.
The Oasis team is now ranked among the top 60 Model UN teams in North America and it has climbed into the Top 25 in the Southern United States. Winning has become routine for these students.
Last month, the team took part in the Seahawk Model United Nations Conference, hosted by Cape Coral High School. The conference attracted top Florida Model UN schools like the Canterbury School of Fort Myers, Tampa Prep, Fort Myers High, Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine), host Cape Coral High and others. Oasis won awards in every committee. The team took gavels for the Great Compromiser in three out of the four committees.
Ndiang’ui started the Oasis Model UN team five years ago. He has been involved with Model UN himself for 20 years in different parts of the world including his native Kenya. He teaches economics, social studies and world history at Oasis.
During a Model UN conference team members are assigned a situation and country. They represent that country and speak about that country as if they were a delegate. Ndiang’ui said the Oasis team’s success is the result of hard work.
“So you need to know the country’s position on issues, who to work with, and the procedure of the debates,” Ndiang’ui said. “It’s a structured way of speaking. They just work really hard. Everyone knows hard work pays. The students do research, cooperate, help and support one another a great deal. They know how to debate and compromise. My job is just to enjoy it.”
Freshman Rekha Pednekar is looking forward to the trip to MIT this weekend.
“This is my first out-of-state conference,” Pednekar said. “We’re so excited for MIT. The topic that I have is the relevance of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and the future of nuclear energy. I’ll be representing Ghana and their position on it.”
Chris Byron, another freshman, will be representing Algeria and the humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees and market volatility for food in sub-Saharan Africa.
“I start my research on the country’s embassy website,” Byron said. “There, they have their stances on different topics. And from there I find more sources.”
Having won 13 awards at its last conference at Cape Coral High, the Oasis team is looking forward to participating in the larger Model United Nations Conference at MIT. There, they will hone their research and diplomacy skills alongside high school students from all over the world.
“They know us at MIT because we’re ranked high,” Ndiang’ui said with a smile. “It’s a good exchange and a wonderful experience.”