Julie Furlong debated today before the United Nations the merits of spending money on a media blitz to make the world more aware of "what's going on in the Mideast and to promote world peace."
Julie, 16, is a junior at Iroquois High School in Elma, but as the designated French representative on the Model U.N. Security Council, she took her duties seriously.
She joined students from 20 other schools at Canisius College for the 19th annual conference, sponsored by the Buffalo Council on World Affairs and the international relations program at Canisius.
"(It) allows high school students to learn about the workings of the United Nations and its role in world affairs," said Brenda Freedman, council spokeswoman. "Through the Model U.N., future leaders are learning not only about specific countries and issues, but also about the complexities of world politics.
"It teaches students the importance of tolerance and resolving differences through dialogue and compromise."
Nick Richter, a 17-year-old senior at Iroquois, reinforced that by serving as India's representative on the U.N. International Court of Justice. He listened to debates on what might be done about allegations that Burma has suppressed human rights.
"This is something really good," he said. "I'm interested in seeing a model of what the United Nations is really like, and I think it's worthwhile for all of the students attending."
"Our debates on human rights issues around the world are fascinating," said Matt Walker, 17, a representative of Portugal on the Security Council.
"(There are) places like Afghanistan and Burma, places around the world trying to establish a democracy when their entire history has been a dictatorship," he said.
Julie said a lot of research and study went into the preparation.
"At the Security Council, we discussed the political unrest in the Middle East, with Egypt and the (United Kingdom) going back and forth to debate whether or not the U.K. is intervening in the Mideast for economic reasons and the (U.K) claiming they are just trying to keep peace for their people."
"We students can learn a lot from this process," she added.
Two Model U.N. programs are held each year, Ms. Freedman said. The Security Council and International Court of Justice are held this month, and the General Assembly takes place in March. The programs are rotated among Canisius College, Daemen College, D'Youville College and the University at Buffalo.
Canisius College students prepare position papers on selected international topics. The high school participants then research and represent their designated countries' positions on those issues.