It is the central mission of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. Those challenges might seem to happen worlds apart from our every day life here in Maine. But recently, on a nearby college campus, that type of work and negotiation was carried out and navigated - by teenagers.

The conference is called Maine Model UN – or MeMUNC – and for three days, high school – and some middle school students – tackle issues that shape the world they will inherit

This annual conference mimics the work of the United Nations – and with passion, and determination, and unbridled energy – these kids gather from across New England to try on the role of being a delegate to the UN – getting a glimpse of how nations work together - through diplomacy and debate - in the process of shaping international policy.

Over the course of three days, the committees have five sessions during which they debate their topics. Delegates have read positions papers on each topic, and come prepared to draft resolutions within each committee.

Passing resolutions means finding compromise around issues that challenge today’s world leaders. There is protocol and procedure and then the hard work begins.

Leading the charge of MeMUNC… all of the planning, and coordination – all of the topics chosen for debate -- the entire conference is spearheaded by USM students. Tim Ruback trains the student leaders, and it is the USM students who choose the topics and prepare the policy briefs that each high school students studies prior to MeMUNC. The delegates, and the leadership all agree – this time together, full of negotiation, compromise, reaching consensus that changes heart and minds – is some of the most fulfilling work they do in their academic careers.

This is the 20th anniversary of Maine Model UN, and it has grown exponentially, and now some of the teachers bringing delegations to the event – were delegates themselves, 15 or 20 years ago. The devotion to this event is contagious – many of the college student leaders expressed their secret desire to continue being college students for many years – if only to allow them to continue to be involved with Maine Model UN.