Harrisburg Model U.N. engages high school and college students

Students in Penn State Harrisburg’s International Affairs Association (IAA) are seeing their mock United Nations conference have global effects.

The campus' recent 40th anniversary Model U.N. provided unique opportunities for college and high school students. More than 200 student delegates from 17 area high schools learned about global issues and practiced maintaining international peace and security at the conference. The campus' IAA club members coordinated the event and used it to kick off a fundraiser to help polio victims in Nigeria.

With topics including Iran’s nuclear programs, population growth, and the Israel/Palestine conflict, delegates practiced public speaking and negotiating during debate sessions throughout the two-day event.

“I think the public speaking we do here helps us develop skills to speak with others,” said Chad Bomgardner, a Central Dauphin High School student.

Jacob Gibson, also from Central Dauphin, commented on the real-world connection the conference provides.

“A lot of decisions are made through the United Nations. The Model U.N. allows you to practice making those decisions,” he said.

IAA members are reaching beyond the conference to raise funds for Wheelchairs for Nigeria, a nonprofit organization that builds self-pedaled tricycles for that nation’s polio victims. In conjunction with the Model U.N. 40th anniversary, students kicked off the conference fundraiser with a goal of $6,000 by the end of the fall 2012 semester. The club will raise funds through a t-shirt sale and by reaching out to IAA alumni, and plans to collaborate with the Hershey Rotary Club and Hershey Rotaract, humanitarian groups for business leaders and students, respectively.

Also participating in the project is the Bida Central Rotary in Nigeria, where the specially-designed wheelchairs will be distributed.

Clem Gilpin, assistant professor of community systems and Afro-American studies, who founded the Model U.N. in 1973, resided in Bida for two years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Gilpin said the fundraiser also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

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Last Updated March 27, 2012