By Theresa Harrington
Last weekend, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill was transformed into the Model United Nations, where dozens of students from throughout Contra Costa County and beyond debated important international issues, as “delegates” from countries around the world.
It was the 20th annual session of the Contra Costa County Model United Nations (UN) Conference, a two-day competition that gives high school students an understanding of the organization and its role in global issues. Teams of student delegates from each school represent a nation or corporation, and negotiate on behalf of their country or corporation.
Individual delegate winners were recognized for their debate and leadership skills, knowledge of the issues, and presentation of key resolutions. According to a “Best Delegate” Model UN blog post about the event, delegates from California, Gunn, Campolindo, San Ramon Valley and De La Salle high schools won “Outstanding Delegate” (gavel) awards and California High School won the county “Outstanding Delegation” award.
Former United Nations Development Programme Senior Officer Herb Behrstock — who is president of the UN Association, East Bay Chapter — was the keynote speaker at the Opening Plenary ceremony.
The conference was coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education in partnership with UC Davis.
Here are the students who participated, along with the countries and corporations each school represented:
ACALANES HIGH, LAFAYETTE (representing Angola, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Senegal, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Bahrain EDB, Nestle and Sony):
Coach: Bob Barton
ANTIOCH HIGH, ANTIOCH (representing Turkey):
Coach: Veronica Hein
THE ATHENIAN SCHOOL, DANVILLE (representing Israel, Pakistan, Uganda and Samsung):
Coach: Kal Balavenkatesan
CALIFORNIA HIGH, SAN RAMON (representing Austria, Egypt, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Spain, Thailand, United States, BP, Microsoft and Pfizer):
Coach: Doug DeVries
CAMPOLINDO HIGH, MORAGA (representing Afghanistan, Algeria, Careroon, D.P.R. Korea, Georgia, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Russian Fed., Saudi Arabia, Arcelor Mittal, IBM, Temasek Holdings and Wal-Mart):
Coach: Molly Kerr
Laura de Crescenzo
Ji Won Lee
CARONDELET HIGH, CONCORD (representing China, Gabon, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, South Africa, Nokia, Proctor & Gamble, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation):
Coaches: Marian Easthope & Tom Zientara
CONCORD HIGH, CONCORD (representing Germany, Tanzania and Dubai Holding):
Coach: Karna Cruz
DE LA SALLE HIGH, CONCORD (representing D.R. Congo, Iraq, United Kingdom and Intel)
Coach: Christian Curry
GUNN HIGH, PALO ALTO (representing Ethiopia, France, Rwanda, Google and Nike)
Coach: Faith Hilal
LAS LOMAS HIGH, WALNUT CREEK (representing Brazil, Mali, Venezuela and Volkswagen):
Coach: Lori Gieleghem
MARIN ACADEMY, SAN RAFAEL (representing Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, India, Coca-Cola, Merck):
Coach: Lynne Hansen
MONTE VISTA HIGH, DANVILLE (representing Chad, Japan, Kazakhstan and Gazprom):
Coach: James Rossi
NORTHGATE HIGH, WALNUT CREEK (representing Burundi, Canada, Costa Rica, Huawei, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and Reliance Industries):
Coaches: John McMorris & Janette Sikorski
SAN RAMON VALLEY HIGH, DANVILLE (representing Central African Rep., Colombia, Guinea, Indonesia, Lenovo and Goldman Sachs):
Coaches: Kelly Hoover & Susan Regalia
The Model UN is one of several special events the County Office of Education supports, said spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn. It also puts on the annual Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon.
“The Model UN conference is not really a competition,” she said. “There are conferences held all over the state and this one is considered to be a beginner conference. We are really excited that we had over 100 more students that participated this year. In llght of all the budget cuts, this is certainly a ray of brightness in terms of the academic enhancement and support that it provides for these students who are really involved.”
A UC Davis coordinator posted many photos, videos and descriptions of all the action here: http://bestdelegate.com/liveblog-cccmun-day-2-free-ebook-preview-and-awards/
Marshburn said the county is surveying school districts to see if they would be interested in participating in a National History Day middle school competition in the spring. The county offered such a competition in the early 1990’s, she said.
All of these special programs help prepare students for college and can help them stand out in college applications.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to learn and practice critical thinking, debate and presentation,” Marshburn said. “The DVC theater was just packed with the students.”
More information about academic events sponsored by the Contra Costa County Office of Education is at: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/events.html.
Does your school participate in these programs?