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Hundreds of Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe students and advisers are participating this week in The Hague International Model United Nations in the Netherlands.

A 195 high school students and 30 advisers from 19 DODDS-Europe schools arrived Sunday in the Netherlands. They will return home Saturday after conducting committee meetings, lobbying, introducing resolutions and meeting in general sessions, similar to what the actual U.N. does, said Wiesbaden, Germany-based Robert Lykins, DODDS-Europe student activities coordinator. Also participating are more than 3,500 other students from around the world.

DODDS-Europe has participated in the annual Model United Nations since the late 1970s, Lykins said.

“The research and preparation required, the adoption of views and attitudes other than their own, the involvement and interaction with so many other young people from around the world, all combine to give the young people a deep insight into the world’s problems, to make them aware of the causes of conflict between nations and to lead them to a better understanding of the interests and motivation of others,” said the Model United Nations’ official Web site, www.thimun.org.

“It’s what you’d expect to see at the U.N.,” Lykins said. “[The students] will discuss international issues dealing with a variety of subjects.”

Some of the subjects during this year’s event include situations in the Middle East, such as the war in Iraq, the testing and development of atomic energy in Iran and Palestinian organizations in Israel, as well as environmental issues, such as global warming, Lykins said.

“[The Model United Nations] gives students the opportunity to represent countries and sides of issues that maybe aren’t popular with our government,” Lykins added.

“It is an event students take very seriously and work very hard towards. We recently had several schools (from Würzburg, Ansbach, Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim, all in Germany) come together for a ‘practice’ model U.N. session,” said Dennis Bohannon, DODDS-Europe spokesman, via e-mail.

DODDS-Europe funds transportation costs for participating students, but they raise their own funds for hotels, meals and registration fees, Lykins said.

“Some kids have said to me upon their return that it was the best experience they’ve had in high school,” he said.

Many of the students who participate end up going into federal service, working for the State Department or going into international business, Lykins said.

The Hague is also home to the Dutch royal family. Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau, wife of Prince Johan-Friso, is the keynote speaker at this year’s event. Past speakers have included the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


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