Non-testers work on world problems

By Kevin Wilson

While most of their classmates were spending their school days taking a national test, the sophomores of Portales High School got an opportunity for a global test.
Tuesday and Wednesday found the PHS 10th-graders in the Campus Union Ballroom of Eastern New Mexico University, where they were organized as part of a simulation of the United Nations.
The program was organized by ENMU’s GEARUP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), and the idea came from Sue Bracksieck, the organization’s enrichment and special events coordinator.
Bracksieck, who has overseen school U.N. competitions in Oklahoma, felt that the program fulfilled both of the terms in her job title.
“It certainly is (a special event),” Bracksieck said. “It’s enriching because we’re talking about global issues.”
Bracksieck said that students were divided up into 15 groups, with each group representing one of the nations in the U.N. Security Council. Those groups were further divided, with students taking several different roles.
Ambassadors were selected to act as U.N. delegates, while other students represented their country in one of four categories — children and education, peace and security, health and humanitarian aid.
Away from the ballroom, a different division fulfilled a role. Students from each nation were chosen as chief information officers. Each CIO was issued a laptop computer for use in the Zia Room, adjacent to the ballroom. The CIO’s job was to look up information with the computer as requested by their group, and compile information so each country could decide whether to support or oppose a resolution.
Larry Sommerville, who acted as the CIO for China, felt he learned a lot about the country and a lot about world politics as well. Some of the resolutions he acquired information for included arms regulations and terrorism prevention.
“I’ve learned that it’s not easy being in this kind of area of politics,” Sommerville said. “I have better respect for the people that do these things.”
The opening for the event was created with the ongoing standard-based assessment tests, which are being administered to freshmen and juniors. The sophomores took part in the U.N. simulation, and seniors could choose to either do work on research papers or work with the simulation in a supervisory role.
Adrianna Stratton picked the latter, and filled the role as chief of staff for the Russian Federation. She said that the major issue the countries had to deal with was an outbreak of ebola to southeast Asia, and how it had affected nations in regards to health, crime and economy.
“They’ve also looked at world issues like HIV, war and child labor,” Stratton said.
Bracksieck was hopeful that through the program, students would develop “a commitment to be active in the community, and then their state and the world.”
“I’d like to see these students solving problems.”