With a gavel engraved with her name, Emily Scifres of Nacogdoches gains the attention of 200of her peers. " We will now come to order," she says into the microphone. The Mike Moses Middle School 8th grader has an important responsibility. She's Secretary General over this year's Model United Nations, an authentic simulation of the U.N. General Assembly.
Preparation includes building confidence. " You basically have to get your nerves together," smiled Scifres. Other prep work included months of research on the assigned countries. Scifres explained, " We have to write pro and con speeches for each resolution that you're going to the Summit for. You have to have a collage, a map."
Every country in the U. N. is represented. That means Ghana. Justice Harvey of Lufkin admitted, " Honestly, I really didn't know anything about it. I didn't even know there was country called Ghana."
But this day they arrive full of knowledge that there are a lot of problems facing other kids in the world. Kristin Liber of Lufkin said, " It's really kinda scary if you think about it. " World hunger, health and human rights issues and global warming are the hot topics for this generation.
Education specialist Donna Ashby noted, " They become angry I think at first. A little incensed perhaps about the issues that they're researching , especially when it deals with children of their own age and as representatives of not the United States, but as the country they're representing they have to think how will my country handle this."
One student dressed in a Japanese robe addressed the assembly. "Japan will not support this resolution." Through it all they learn nothing is perfect in the world. Alex Bickham of Longview learned, " You can't solve all your problems. There's always gong to be another problem and you usually get frustrated in trying to fix those problems."