Students put Spanish skills — and diplomacy — to the test at Model United Nations

Organizers of the Minnesota event say it is the only one of its kind in the country. Even if the students spoke Spanish at home, the conference gave them a chance to use their language in a new setting.

The words felt untried on Melina Santiago Borroel’s tongue, despite being in a language she has spoken from the cradle.

Terms like “delegation,” “resources” and “refugees” sounded somehow unfamiliar in Spanish. The 14-year-old has always known Spanish as the comfy phrases exchanged at home, as the language of her mother and father.

But on Tuesday, Borroel put on a new outfit and pulled from a new pool of words, tackling a global issue in a language stripped of its familiar context.

Representing Burkina Faso, Borroel relied on Spanish to broker deals, form alliances and draft resolutions with students from around the metro at the state’s annual Spanish Model United Nations (U.N.) conference. Organizers say it is the only Model U.N. of its kind in the country, held entirely in Spanish.

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