On Thursday and Friday, March 6 and 7, Hope College will sponsor its 36th annual Model United Nations Conference.

The event will include a keynote address by Congressman Pete Hoekstra that is open to the general public. Hoekstra, who represents Michigan's Second Congressional District, will speak during the closing awards ceremony on Friday, March 7, at 3:45 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Admission to the talk is free.

More than 800 students and faculty from approximately 30 high schools will be participating in this year's Model United Nations. Acting as delegates from the 192 members of the United Nations in two General Assemblies, 10 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 the international drug trade, global healthcare, free trade, worldwide education, racism and racial discrimination abolishment, global overpopulation, the legality of uranium enrichment, crises in Iran and East Timor, and an Emergency Crisis, as well as historic debates regarding the Falkland Islands and the United States' Invasion of Iraq.

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 and actively engage with their peer delegates, striving to resolve pressing 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.

The Hope College Model United Nations is organized by students in two political science courses aimed at developing an 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 planning and execution of the event.

The secretary generals for this year's conference are sophomores Ethan B. Morrical, a political science major with a pre-med focus from Yorktown, Ind., and Nate Clements, an international studies and Japanese double major from Lowell. The high school coordinator isKendall Ramsden, a recent Hope graduate from Grand Haven. Senior Stelios Alveraz, a French, Spanish and international studies major from Paris, France is serving as media coordinator.

Sophomore Alison Benoit of Muskegon is director of the Introductory General Assembly, while senior Stephanie Kirkham of Springfield, Ill., and sophomore Ally Veldermanof Hollandare directors of the Advanced General Assembly. Seniors Luke Heerema of Oak Park, Ill., and Colin Lawrence of Sterling, Ill., as well as sophomore Jordan Fullerof Leesburg, Ind., are the Security Council directors. Sophomore Megan Sweet of Salida, Calif., and junior Jeff Ichesco of Saline are directing the Economic/Social Council. Sophomore Stephanie Bogema of Kalamazoo is serving as the director of the International Court of Justice.

Students involved in theGeneral Assemblies are: junior Heather Esfandiari of Rochester, N.Y.; sophomore Sarah Burrichter of Batavia, Ill.; senior Quinn Nystrom of Baxter, Minn.; junior Chris Erickson of Madera, Calif.; and freshman Miriam Chaponniere of Holland.

Participating in the Security Council sessions are: freshman Maria Krebs of Orange City, Iowa; freshman Ali Bernard of Windsor, Calif.; freshman Sara Saavedra of Holland; senior Ben Walker of Summerville, S.C.; senior Brad Vanderlee of Grand Rapids; sophomore Joseph Rinkinen of Highland; freshman Laura Diez of Madrid, Spain; senior Kathleen Burkhardt of Muncie, Ind.; senior Brian Straw of Arlington, Va.; and freshman Kevin Haley of Lowell, Mass.

ECOSOC participants include: sophomore Alexander Martin of Holland; sophomore Kara Oakley of Douglas; junior Emily Donahue of Naperville, Ill.; and senior Jay Martello of Clarkston.

The following participants are involved with the International Court of Justice: junior Katelyn Lokker of Zeeland; and freshman Rylee Hartung of Adrian.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.