On Thursday and Friday, March 5 and 6, Hope College will host its 37th annual Model United Nations conference.

More than 650 students and faculty from the greater Midwest will compete in the various simulations, making the event the largest Model United Nations conference in Michigan. Acting as delegates from the 191 member nations of the United Nations in two General Assemblies, seven Security Councils, one International Criminal Court (ICC), and one Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the students will be faced with issues pertaining to the current international affairs.

Issues that will be included in this year's conference include the global energy crisis, natural disaster response, child soldiers/child labor, ethnic independent movements and violence against women.

The purpose of Model United Nations is 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 the questions facing them. HopeCollege's department of political science sponsors the event.

Participating students, with the help of faculty advisors, have been preparing for weeks for the conference by working to identify the current issue positions of countries they have selected to represent. Throughout the event, they will discuss with their peer delegates in order to attain solutions that they feel best resolve various international problems.

ECOSOC, Security Council and ICC members begin their sessions Thursday evening and continue throughout the day Friday. General Assembly members arrive Friday morning and will debate during the day.

In addition to the various sessions, students participating in ECOSOC, Security Council and ICC will attend an opening banquet Thursday. This year's keynote speakers will be Hope seniors Chris Jetter of Greenville, Ohio, and Susan Kioko of Nairobi, Kenya, who will speak about their international experiences.

The Model United Nations will conclude with an awards ceremony on Friday, March 6, in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.  The featured speaker will be former State Representative Bill Huizenga, who will focus on leadership, relationships and preparing for the future economy as students enter the work field and advanced studies.  Huizenga will speak at 3:50 p.m., with the awards ceremony following.  The public is invited to both the address and the ceremony, and admission is free.

The Hope College Model United Nations is organized by students in a political science course aimed at the understanding of international politics and the role of the United Nations 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 generals for this year's conference are sophomore Kevin Haley of Lowell, Mass., and senior Katelyn Lokker of Zeeland. The directors for Introductory General Assembly are sophomores Aaron Martin of Hartselle, Ala., and Rachel Syens of Holland; for Advanced General Assembly are senior Lauren Johnson and sophomore Miriam Chaponniere, both of Holland; for Security Council are sophomore Alison Bernard of Windsor, Calif., sophomore Nathan Bult of Jenison and senior Nathan Magrath of Pentwater; for Economic and Social Council are seniors Sara Aardema of Portage and Matthew Siehoff of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; and for International Criminal Court are sophomore Rylee Hartung of Adrian and junior Dustin Miller of Dayton, Ohio; and serving as media coordinator is sophomore Brittany Adams of Geneva, Ill.

The faculty advisors to Model United Nations are Dr. Virginia Beard, assistant professor of political science, and Dr. Jack Holmes, professor of political science.