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Juniata Sponsors Model UN Conference for Area High Schools

(Posted October 15, 2001)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Area high school students will be delving into real-life crises and working to form responses to the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., Oct. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of a Model United Nations conference for local high school students sponsored by Juniata College.

"The students will come here ready to react harshly or quickly to global issues in our mock sessions and they quickly learn that diplomacy isn't about declaring war," says Emil Nagengast, assistant professor of politics at Juniata. "In committee meetings and sessions, sometimes it's a struggle to resolve anything -- which is probably the most valuable lesson."

More than 150 students on teams from State College Area High School, Altoona Area High School, Huntingdon Area High School, Bellefonte Area High School, East Juniata High School, Williamsport Area High School, Indian Valley High School, Wellsboro High School, McKeesport High School, Wyoming Seminary, Juniata Valley High School and Lewistown Area High School will attend the one-day event.

Nagengast says a model U.N. conference allows high school students and their teachers to participate in simulated international negotiations and diplomatic scenarios. 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 World Health Organization.

The Model U.N. session will include two special sessions to allow students to react to the events of Sept. 11. There will be a session of the National Security Council addressing "The U.S. War on Terrorism," with Juniata senior Ryan Miller, of Millington, Md., standing in for Pres. George W. Bush. The United Nations Security Council session will address "Peace in the Middle East."
Other sessions and topics include: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, "Missile Defense Systems;" the United Nations Environment Program, "Multinational Corporations and Environmental Standards;" the Organization of American States, "Drug Trafficking and Control;" and the Commission for Human Rights, "Women's Reproductive Rights and Violence Against Women."

The conference will use up-to-the-minute technology to stage parts of the conference including closed-circuit video feeds into most of the six U.N. session locations in the ballroom and faculty lounge in Ellis Hall and the student lounges in South, Tussey and Lesher Halls. The video links allow conference organizers to change scenarios or give the students more information about debate topics.

"We're also prerecording video segments that will introduce a crisis or a policy change for the committees to react to," Nagengast explains. "In the past, a student would introduce change in a session by walking in and reading a written statement. These video segments should make things seem more real."

The conference is sponsored and staged by the Juniata College Model United Nations Club. About 30 Juniata students will participate in the events and oversee the various committees and sessions. The student secretary general for the conference is Lindsay Briggs, a senior from Huntingdon, Pa. At the end of the day, each committee will choose a Best Delegate Award as well as several Outstanding Delegate Awards.

The regional Model U.N. conference is in its third consecutive year at Juniata, and Nagengast points out that the conference is educational for both the high school and college students. "The high school students have to be prepared and know the subject backwards and forwards," he says. "The Juniata students learn the subject as well, but they also learn how to organize and motivate a group of young people."

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