Mock summit has students mulling international solutions
On Dec. 3, the students of George Whittell High School had the opportunity to participate in a mock United Nation Summit about climate change with students from Australia and New Zealand.
Whittell students formed groups with the foreign exchange students and took on the roles of different countries in an attempt to work together on a universal problem.
Whittell Junior Dusty Winter described his experience teaming up with fellow Whittell student Mary Sanchez and Australian student Phoebe Hooper in order to represent the country of Bangladesh at the summit:
“The issue of concern at the meeting was climate change — the rapid and random changes concerning temperature and weather around the world. Our country in particular was a notable victim of rising water, as a majority of our 181 million citizens live mere meters above water level. We had the honor of beginning the summit with a plea for action and financial aid. As a representative of an underdeveloped country that was feeling the effects of climate change, I was looking for assistance in our plight. However I, and many of the other students, soon became swept up in the roles of our countries. We found ourselves attempting to provoke other countries and blaming each other for solutions. The experience was something of an eye-opener. We, students who were supposed to represent the next generation, saw how our nationalism and self-interest clouded our abilities to move forward and find new solutions that are beneficial to all. This experience shows me the challenges that we must overcome for people from all upbringings and cultures to strive not just for ourselves, but also for the greater good.”
Environmental engineer Meghan Kelly from the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District kicked off the summit with a talk and a slideshow on her expedition from Iceland to Greenland measuring the impact of climate change. Whittell sophomore Trinity Dickinson said, “Meghan Kelly’s presentation was engrossing, and interesting to me in particular because of my desire to become an environmental engineer.”
According to Whittell sophomore Aspen Kidd, “The entire experience was educational, thought-provoking and just plain fun. I hope Whittell gets more opportunities to do projects like this.”
Junior Chris Evans agreed and said, “It was a great opportunity to meet new people and discuss world matters from unique perspectives.”
Principal Esquivel was thankful for the opportunity that was offered to his students by Simon Norton, World Learning program director of Youth Peacebuilding and Leadership Programs. “The U.N. summit simulation offered our students a short-term learning experience that was empowering and relevant to all. The interactions between Whittell students and the international students exposed everyone to intercultural skills and a deeper awareness of the global issues shaping the world we live in. Not only that, but let’s not forget the positive relationships that were formed today that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
Following the event, the international students and staff were hosted for dinner by several Whittell families throughout the community before heading to Seattle and then to Portland, Ore.