Hope College will host its 39th annual Model United Nations conference for high school students on Thursday and Friday, March 9-10.

More than 700 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 192 member nations of the United Nations in two General Assemblies, eight Security Councils, an International Court of Justice (ICJ), and an 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 endangered species and the loss of biodiversity, the international drug trade, global currency, the Internet and human rights, global vaccinations, and the human rights of migrants.

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 ICJ 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 senior Aftan Snyder of Bigfork, Mont., and Hope junior Ziye Liu of Chongqing, China, who will reflect on the quote by Gandhi "my life is a message" and speak about their international experiences.

The Model United Nations will conclude with an awards ceremony on Friday, March 11, in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.  The featured speaker will be Martha Larsen from the Michigan Peace Team. Larsen 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 seniors Alison Bernard of Windsor, Calif., and Shannon Brenneman of Wadsworth, Ohio. The directors for Introductory General Assembly are senior Katlyn Rowe of Midland and junior Michael Dirksen of East Grand Rapids; for Advanced General Assembly are seniors Emma Porter of St. Charles, Ill., and junior Laura Helderop of Grand Rapids; for Security Council are seniors Alyssa Zeldenrust of Winfield, Ill., and Stephen Pedersen of Vernon Hills, Ill., junior Derek Jager of Asheville, N.C., and sophomore Jeff Sweet of Petaluma, Calif.; for Economic and Social Council are senior Angela Griffore of Holland and junior Joshua Wunderlich of Traverse City; for International Court of Justice are seniors Allison Bryan of Grand Rapids and Kevin Haley of Lowell, Mass. Serving as high school coordinator is senior James Colten of Wheaton, 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.