On Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9, Hope College will sponsor its 35th annual Model United Nations conference.

More than 800 students and faculty from approximately 35 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 Incarcerated Children, Global Warming, Child Marriage, Global Poverty, Accountability of Nations, the inherent right to self defense in a War against Terror, Usage of the Rio San Juan, and crisis in Colombia, Somalia, Nepal, Israel, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone.

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 an opening banquet on Thursday. This year's keynote speaker is State Representative Bill Huizenga from Ottawa County.

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 sophomore Anne Schmidt, a political science and communications major from Redford. Serving as Deputy Secretary Generals are junior Andrew Lee, a political science and economics double major from South Korea, andMary Hofert, a women's studies major from Mt. Prospect, Ill. Junior Stelios Alvarez, a French, Spanish and international studies major from Paris, France, was media coordinator.

Freshman Nate Clements of Lowell is director of the Introductory General Assembly.Juniors Emily Griffin and Brian Gatliff, both from Gross Pointe,are directors of the Advanced General Assembly. Seniors Charles Knooihuizen of Grandville, Anthony Pastrick of St. Joseph, andLiber Bezmertney of Montevideo, Uruguay,are the Security Council directors. Freshman Ethan Morrical of Yorktown, Ind., is directing the Economic Social Council.Junior Andrew Williams from Columbus, Ohio, is directing the International Court of Justice.

Students involved in theGeneral Assemblies are: senior Chad Geurink of Zeeland; juniors Andrew Bedan of Grosse Pointe Parke, Stephanie Kirkham of Springfield, Illinois, Garran Johnson of Lansing, and Lindsay Lochner of Troy; ophomores Colleen Sullivan of River Forest, Ill., and Brian Heim of West Chicago, Ill.; and freshmen Alison Benoit of Muskegon and Ally Velderman of Hamilton.

Participating in the Security Council sessions are: seniors Kendall Ramsden of Grand Haven and Kirsten Winek of Peoria, Ill.; juniors Ben Smith of Vermontville, Bill Valentine of Beecher, Ill., and Kersten Burns of Midland; sophomores Katie Buys of Clarksville, Meghan McNamee of Howell, Matt Richardson of Niles, and Jeff Ichesco of Saline; and freshmen Joel Blok of Kalamazoo, David Rickey of Richmond, Ind., Bethany Braaksma of Cambria, Wis., Jordan Fuller of Warsaw, Ind., and Kevin Slusher of Montgomery.

ECOSOC participants include: seniors Whitney Haumiller of Naperville, Ill., Elizabeth Coen of Deerfield, Ill., and Craig DeVoto of Clarendon Hills, Ill.; sophomore Sara Aardema of Portage; and freshman Danielle Bossley of Stevensville.

The following participants are involved with the International Court of Justice: freshmen Juan Martinez of Hollandand Dustin Miller of Battle Creek.

Dr. Eliot Dickinson, visiting assistant professor of political science, is the faculty advisor to Model United Nations.