On Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9, Hope College will host its 40th annual Model United Nations conference for high school students.

More than 700 students and faculty from the greater Midwest will compete in the various simulations. Acting as delegates from the 192 member nations of the United Nations in two General Assemblies, four 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 discussed in this year’s conference include global warming, regulation of nuclear energy production, sustainable food production, illicit trade, goals for African development, conflicting territorial claims to the Spratly Islands, unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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. Hope College’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 arriving Thursday will attend an opening banquet at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center that night.  The Model United Nations will conclude with an awards ceremony on Friday, March 9, at 3:45 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The Hope College Model United Nations is organized by students in political science courses aimed at understanding international politics and the role of the United Nations in international disputes and resolutions. 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 senior Amy Alvine of Elgin, Ill.; senior Stewart Elzinga of Zeeland; sophomore Ashley Fraley of Wellston; and sophomore Kyla Koboski of Apple Valley, Minn.  The directors for Introductory General Assembly are senior Derek Jager of Arden, N.C., and junior Ryan Olivia MacDonald of Pasadena, Calif.  The directors for Advanced General Assembly are junior Tommy Helderop of Grand Rapids and freshman Shubham Sapkota of Kathmandu, Nepal.  The directors for Security Council are senior Alex Griffin of Grand Rapids; senior Taylor Groth of Waterford; senior Lee Marcus of Holland; junior Meaghan McKeon of Adrian; junior Scott Nielson of Mount Vernon, Ohio; and freshman Erica Simpson of Traverse City.  The directors for Economic and Social Council are seniors Emily Evans of Fremont and Cory Sicard of South Haven.  The directors for the International Court of Justice are sophomore Will DeBoer of West Lafayette, Ind., and senior Zach Sikkema of Grandville.  Media coordinator is junior La’Shawn Donelson of Washington, D.C.