Modeling the U.N. of the future: two Stetson Law students participate in intergenerational community-building at Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Khai Su and Riya Khan worked together to present during the model U.N. session.

Kai Su and Riya Khan worked together to present during the model U.N. session.

Two Stetson University College of Law students participated in a model intergenerational U.N. session on April 8 about global issues related to aging. Stetson students Riya Khan, a student in the LL.M. program, and Kai Su, a first-year J.D. student, joined the session at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston via Skype.

A group of more than 30 people including senior citizens and high school students partnered to represent three NGOs for human rights, transportation and housing and 16 different countries around the world on the issue of aging.

“It’s important to get younger people involved early on,” said Khan, who wants to work for the U.N. or a similar organization after graduating from Stetson in May.

Khan and Su shared ideas on how countries should address their aging populations, using the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing as a guide. Adopted by the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002, the Madrid Plan is a comprehensive action plan for building an intergenerational society.

“I did a model U.N. program in high school,” Su shared. “This was a different approach, matching high school students with older people.”

Session participants worked together to write resolutions requesting healthcare, housing and education for seniors and an end to gender discrimination and exploitation in third world countries. Khan and Su addressed questions about how to address human rights issues impacting older women in the Middle East, whether governments or NGOs should create or implement human rights policies, and whether all countries should sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The intergenerational U.N. initiative is the brainchild of Kathi Bailey, director of the Yarmouth Senior Center. The seniors involved in the program stay active and have an opportunity to interact with young people to develop solutions to worldwide issues. The town of Yarmouth is an age-friendly community and a member of the World Health Organization.

“We were fortunate to meet Professor Morgan and JR Swanegan at the American Society on Aging Conference in Chicago in March of 2017 and begin our collaborative journey,” said Bailey. Professor Rebecca Morgan is the Boston Asset Management Chair in Elder Law and co-directs the Center for Excellence in Elder Law with Professor Roberta Flowers. Swanegan is assistant dean for international programs at Stetson.

“The Stetson University student participation allowed us to introduce a Human Rights NGO through Skype technology as a demonstration of intergenerational and international participation in community building for a lifespan as we explored the topic of aging,” said Bailey. “We now have a new mechanism to reach out in communities where the traditional model U.N. did not exist and we have put aging on the traditional model U.N. committee map.”

Watch a video of the session below: