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Mock UN Competition to Debate Issues in Middle East

The public is invited to the University of the Virgin Island's Fifth Annual Model United Nations Competition from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on April 4, in the first-floor conference room of the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus. UVI students from both campuses will debate, deliberate and provide solutions to issues in the Middle East in a mock United Nations session. Participants will simulate the committees and programs of the United Nations, with two delegations each representing a different country.

To be considered for the competition, interested students submitted a preliminary position paper. The top five students from each campus were selected to compete.
UVI students Ivory Carter, Richard Dorsey, Gabriel Ible, Chevon Merchant and JoAnn Thomas-Lewis have been selected from the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. They will represent Saudi Arabia. The students from the St. Thomas campus are Jacqueline Adonis, Michael Charles, Kevin Miller, Shania Shervington, and Kamika Thomas. They will represent Syria.

The debate topics for Saudi Arabia are the tolerance of homosexuality, fighting terrorism stigmas, women's rights, the legal system and human trafficking. For Syria, students will debate the civil war, water shortages and issues associated with forcing democracy on Syria. Students will also debate humanitarian law and the proper use of the Geneva Convention.

"By participating in the Model UN competition, students quickly learn of the challenges of resolving some of the issues countries face," said Dr. Kula Francis, UVI professor of political science and competition organizer. "Through this competition, UVI students gain a better sense of international concerns, policies and affairs. Students also improve their communication skills as they learn tactics of debate, deliberation and development of solutions to world problems."

Dr. Francis said that Syria and Saudi Arabia were chosen because the region had not been covered in any of the previous competitions and these countries garner a great deal of media coverage based on their current political climate - making them more practical from a research standpoint for students. "Although students are focusing on two countries (Syria and Saudi Arabia), there is an underlying learning experience of cultural, religious, political and economic variances globally," he said.

Many of the winners of this competition have very successful careers. The first winner, Magdalene Morancie graduated from law school in May 2012, passed the Virgin Islands bar exam in July 2012 and is now a practicing attorney working on St. Thomas.

The UVI Model United Nations Competition is an initiative of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of St. Croix, Harborside and West. For more information, contact Dr. Kula Francis at (340) 692-4065 or via email at kfranci@uvi.edu.