On Thursday and Friday, March 9 and 10, Hope College will sponsor its 34th annual Model United Nations conference.

More than 900 students and faculty from more than 30 high schools will be participating. Acting as delegates from the 191 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 important current international events.

Among the issues to be discussed are AIDS, a U.N. definition of terrorism, the status of women, U.N. Security Council reform, intellectual property, children in conflict, Darfur, Georgia, Indonesia, Iran, Spratly Islands and Bolivia. The International Court of Justice simulation will be seeking an advisory opinion involving the line of sovereignty for U.N. peacekeepers.

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 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 an opening banquet on Thursday. This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Fred Johnson of the Hope College history faculty, who has researched U.S. foreign policy in East Africa.

The Hope College Model United Nations is organized by students in a political science course aimed at 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 Emily Cornell, a political science and communication major from Grapevine, Texas. Serving as Deputy Secretary Generals are seniors Matthew Adkins, a political science major from Holland, and Kurt Pyle, a political science and mathematics major from Zeeland.

Sophomore Mark VanTongeren of Grand Rapids is director of the Introductory General Assembly. Seniors Emily Mills of Hudsonville and Rebecca Rooy of Shelby are directors of the Advanced General Assembly. Junior Charles Knooihuizen of Grandville and senior Sarah Jared of Petoskey are the Security Council directors. Sophomore David Nyitray of Holland and junior Jason Weber of Elkhart, Ind., are the directors of ECOSOC. Junior Kim Van Sickle of Paw Paw is the director of the International Court of Justice.

Students involved in the General Assemblies are the following: junior Kirsten Gruenberg of Naperville, Ill.; sophomore Marie Mann of Traverse City; sophomore Jill Meade of Geneva, Ill.; sophomore Shayna Drost of Charlevoix; junior Brandon Kaiser of Lake Odessa; junior Aaron Wilson of Kalamazoo; junior Katy Eagen of Highland Park, Ill.; sophomore Hilary Pitchlynn of Norman, Okla.; junior Kyle Warner of West Bloomfield; and senior Becky Whitman of Ludington.

Participating in the Security Council sessions are: junior Michael VanderVelde of Grandville; junior Anthony Pastrick of St. Joseph; junior Jason Todd of Niles; junior Jeff Layman of Holland; junior Liber Bezmertney of Montevideo, Uruguay; junior Nicole Klunder of St. Joseph; junior Jordan Winfield of Grosse Pointe; sophomore Chad Coots of Muskegon; sophomore Luke Heerema of Oak Park, Ill.; sophomore Brad Lockwood of Palatine, Ill.; sophomore Brian Gatliff of Grosse Pointe; junior John Rabaut of Oakland Township; junior Brent Potts of Hudsonville; junior Jeff Guy of Kalkaska; sophomore Julian Feick of Dowagiac; and sophomore David Visintainer.

ECOSOC participants include: junior Shannon Harburn of Okemos; sophomore Katie Rhem of Spring Lake; sophomore Mike Prashaw of White Lake; junior Brad Matson of Traverse City; junior Sanders Frye of Harbor Springs; and freshman Anne Schmidt of Redford Township.

The following participants are involved with the International Court of Justice: sophomore Andrew Lee of Guang-Ju, South Korea; and senior Lauren Engel of Traverse City.

Dr. Jack Holmes, professor of political science, is the faculty advisor to Model United Nations.