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Juniata Hosts High School Model UN Conference

(Posted November 1, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Area high school students will debate and discuss United Nations Security Council strategies to deal with the nuclear programs of two rogue states: Iran and North Korea, Monday, Nov. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in various campus locations, as part of a Model United Nations conference for local high school students sponsored by Juniata College.

"The U.N. Security Council meeting will be intriguing for the high school students because it is moderated by Juniata's president of student government, Javaid Zeerak, who is from Afghanistan," says Emil Nagengast, associate professor of politics at Juniata. "The students will get to hear a voice of experience, a person who is familiar with international issues."

In addition, the conference also will feature the participation of a student who is part of the U.S. State Department-sponsored Partnership for Learning Undergraduate Studies (PLUS), a program where Muslim students from North African and Middle East nations study at colleges across the country. Kurdo Othman, a Kurdish international student from northern Iraq, will work on the Special Committee on Israel-Palestine.

More than 200 students and 15 teachers on teams from Altoona Area High School, Huntingdon Area High School, Bellefonte Area High School, East Juniata Senior High School, Hollidaysburg Area High School, Lewistown Area High School, Indian Valley High School, the Milton Hershey School, St. John's School at Prospect Hall, Juniata Valley Junior-Senior High School, Williamsport High School, Wyoming Seminary and State College Area High School will attend the one-day event.

Nagengast says a Model U.N. conference gives high school students and their teachers a chance to participate in simulated international negotiations and diplomatic role-playing. Students in high school United Nations clubs are given background briefing materials 30 days before the conference. Each club is assigned a country or countries to represent and given assignments to participate in other United Nations organizations such as the Security Council or the World Health Organization.

"The conference becomes a special learning experience for both the Juniata students and the high school participants," Nagengast explains. "The Juniata students will hone their management and presentation skills and the high school students will experience a slice of college life."

The Model U.N. conference will include a session of the National Security Council addressing "U.S. Foreign Policy," with Juniata senior Ryan Richards, of Coupeville, Wash., standing in for Pres. George W. Bush. The United Nations Security Council session, chaired by Afghan student Javaid Zeerak, will address ""Nuclear Programs in North Korea and Iran."

Other sessions and topics include: the Disarmament and International Security Committee, "Land Mines;" the United Nations Environment Program, "Global Warming;" the Special Committee on Israel and Palestine, "Israel-Palestine Policy;" and the Committee for Human Rights will meet on "Women's Rights." A Special Committee will meet on "United Nations Reform," and another Special Committee focuses on "Free Trade in the Americas." There will be a U.N. Development Programme on "AIDS in Africa" and a Special Committee on Human Rights ands International Trade meeting on the "World Trade Organization."

The conference is sponsored and staged by the Juniata College Model United Nations Club. About 35 Juniata students will participate in the events and oversee the various committees and sessions. The student secretary general for the conference is Karin Brown, a senior from Streator, Ill.

The regional Model U.N. conference is in its seventh consecutive year at Juniata. The Juniata students serving as committee chairs are: National Security Council: Ryan Richards, a senior from Coupeville, Wash.; Disarmament: Jon Hoey, a junior from Shippensburg, Pa.; U.N. Security Council: Javaid Zeerak, a senior international student from Afghanistan; U.N. Environmental Program: Gabriel Lopez Escalante, a sophomore international student from Ecuador; U.N. Development Programme: Neil Eicher, a junior from Parlin, N.J., and Natalie Rizzuto, a senior from York, Pa.; Committee for Human Rights: Olga Lomonosova, a senior international student from Russia; Special Committee on Israel and Palestine: Kurdo Othman, a senior international student from Palestine; Special Committee on Trade in the Americas: Seth Robertson, a junior from Rockhill, Pa.; Special Committee on U.N. Reform: George Patitsas, a sophomore from Huntingdon, Pa.; and Special Committee on Human Rights and International Trade: Kelie Cummins, a senior from Huntingdon, Pa.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.