On Thursday and Friday, March 6 and 7, Hope College will sponsor its 31st annual Model United Nations conference. More than 900 students and faculty from approximately 45 high schools will be participating.

Acting as delegates from the 189 member nations of the United Nations in two General Assemblies, seven Security Councils, one International Court of Justice (ICJ), and one Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the students will be taking part in simulated exercises focusing on significant international issues.

Among the issues to be discussed are terrorism, global health care, global water crisis, sustainable development, the status of women, weapons of mass destruction, Colombia, the Middle East, Iraq, Congo, and Kashmir. The International Court of Justice simulation will be seeking an advisory opinion for a hypothetical case involving North Korea and the United States; it will be discussing the legality of preemption.

Model United Nations is designed to give high school students an opportunity to take on the roles of professional diplomats with the goal of achieving a particular country's national objectives, while fostering a desired international consensus for real solutions to questions facing them. The department of political science at Hope College sponsors the event.

Participating students have been working with their high school advisors for several weeks in preparation for the conference, and have been identifying the current issue positions of countries they have chosen to represent. During the conference, they will share knowledge with their peer delegates, striving to attain solutions to international problems.

ECOSOC, Security Council, and ICJ members begin their sessions on Thursday evening, continuing all day Friday. General Assembly members arrive on Friday morning, debating throughout the day.

In addition to their sessions, ECOSOC, Security Council, and ICJ members also attend a banquet. This year's keynote speaker is Bruce vanVoorst, now retired after 35 years as a correspondent with "Newsweek" and "Time" magazines. He served as bureau chief for the magazines in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and diplomatic correspondent (for both magazines) in Washington, D.C. Before working for "Newsweek" and "Time," vanVoorst, who is a 1954 Hope graduate, was a reporter for the "Holland Sentinel."

The Hope College Model United Nations is organized by students in a political science course aimed at the understanding of international politics and the United Nations' role in international disputes. The Hope students serve as session chairpersons and perform other administrative tasks throughout the formation and execution of the event.

The Secretary General for this year's conference is senior Elisabeth van Houwelingen, a political science major from Traverse City. Serving as Deputy Secretary Generals are sophomore Vance Brown, a political science major from Whitehall, and senior John Collins, a history major from Bloomfield Hills.

Sophomores Lindsay Bosak of Livonia and Stephanie Szydlowski of Muskegon are the directors of the General Assemblies. Juniors J.K. Granberg-Michaelson of Oakland, N.J., and Kia Weeldreyer of Mattawan are the Security Council directors, while sophomore Jon Hecksel of Flint is the director of ECOSOC. The International Court of Justice is directed by senior John Collins of Bloomfield Hills.

Students involved in the General Assemblies are the following: senior Megan Danielson of Manistee; freshman Nick DeKoster of Hudsonville; freshman Shawn Evers of Cedar Lake, Ind.; freshman Will Guy of Adrian; junior Katie Hall of Holland; sophomore Jake Kain of Williamston; freshman Junna Otake of Tokyo, Japan; junior Tracy Quandt of Peck; junior Jon Sedon of Midland; sophomore Joe Turbessi of Nunica; sophomore Trevor VanDyke of Traverse City; and sophomore Lindsay White of Traverse City.

Participating in the Security Council sessions are: junior Sara Barber of Grand Rapids; sophomore Matt Buursma of Zeeland; freshman Lori Clark of Kalamazoo; sophomore Jason DeBruler of Jackson; freshman James Grandstaff of University City, Mo.; freshman Kristen Harris of Newberg, Ore.; sophomore Paul Hayes of Grand Rapids; junior Scott Hinze of Shelby; freshman Melissa Ipema of Lockport, Ill.; sophomore Becky Knooihuizen of Grandville; freshman Noree Logsdon of Dixon, Ill.; sophomore Chris Paglino of Troy; freshman Anne Schuster of Dublin, Ohio; freshman Katie Smith of Sumner; junior Nate Sorensen of Bloomfield Hills; junior Adam Throop of Waterford; sophomore Gerald VanderWal of Wyoming; sophomore Pete VanLaan of Lowell; and senior Steve VanLaan of Lowell.

ECOSOC participants are the following: freshman Jennifer Blackman of Crete, Ill.; senior Mary Chambers of Holland; freshman Asuka Chujo of Kawasaki, Japan; junior Tiffany Drendall of Lapeer; freshman Tasuku Nishino of Chiba, Japan; freshman Sarah Quesada-Lubbers of Mexico; and senior Johnny Vega of Holland.

The following participants are involved with the International Court of Justice: senior Hillary Stone of Middleville; senior Andrew VanEngen of Glendora, Calif.; and freshman Ryohei Yamumura of Fukuoka, Japan.

Dr. Joel Toppen and Dr. Jack Holmes of the college's political science faculty are serving as faculty advisors for the students.