Nathan Chen said he remembers not speaking much during the National High School Model United Nations two years ago.
But the high school senior said he plans to change that when he returns to the conference in New York City during spring break this month.
“I was more an observer because I didn’t really know what was going on,” said the 18-year- old president of Interact, a student club at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.
“My goal is to actually speak up, maybe even help with a resolution.”
The group will take 22 delegates to New York to join more than 2,600 high school students from across the country to participate in a simulated United Nations. The Corona del Sol students will represent the Philippines and Kazakhstan during the conference.
The 32-year-old Model U.N. conference is designed to simulate the United Nations and give students a chance to learn about global issues as well as build problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
Like many of the Interact teens, Chen also works as a Teen Court lawyer in Chandler’s Municipal Court. The court acts as a teen diversion program that puts juvenile offenders before a jury of their peers.
“I like the defense side of it,” Chen said. “You get to bring out the good qualities in people.”
Bill Graham, a former high school teacher who heads the Teen Court program in several Valley cities, introduced the Model U.N. to students in Interact as a way for them to satisfy a community service requirement.
The club raised the $22,000 it needed to pay for the New York trip through school fundraisers and from contributions.
But students still had to come up with $600 each, Chen said.
Senior James Melnick, 18, said he’s spent the last two months preparing for his role on the economic and financial committee for the Kazakhstan delegation.
“I think just the standard of living in Kazakhstan is what I’ve learned,” Melnick said.
“They’ve got a bunch of economic problems and corruption problems going on.”
The Corona de Sol group will attend the conference March 21-26.