Students to represent Norway in D.C.

"POULSBO - Ten students at North Kitsap High School will fly to Washington D.C. next week to represent Norway at a model U.N. conference. The conference simulates life at the United Nations, student say - everything from heated discussions and subtle negotiations to 3 a.m. phone calls about international incidents. The North Kitsap club is in its second year, the brainchild of teacher Stephen Pagaard. While teaching in Germany, Pagaard had brought students to a model U.N. in the Hague, which is the biggest meeting of its kind in the world. Impressed by the experience, Pagaard began talking about the model U.N. club to some of his AP history students. Out of that was born the club. It's a good opportunity for kids to get hands-on work with U.S. government and history, Pagaard said. In the club, students learn about other nations and the issues facing those nations. They learn about the nuances of parliamentary procedures, and debate issues such as nuclear disarmament and the Middle East. At the conference, Pagaard said, all that knowledge and skill comes into play. Each club represents a country (North Kitsap will be Norway). The club members learn as much as they can about that country, then represent it in meetings with other clubs. The students will spend three days negotiating on Norway's behalf. It's like the real U.N., said Pagaard. Some of it is exciting and interesting, and some of it is parliamentary procedure at its most boring. One student, Torie Brazitis, is looking forward to all of it. Brazitis went to the conference last year. Brazitis, who wants to pursue a degree in political science, figured the model U.N. would be a taste of what she wanted to study. I do a lot of extracurricular activities, she said, but there wasn't that much that related with what I wanted to do. Far from an abstract club, Brazitis said, the model U.N should interest people her age. We argue about things students are interested in, she said. The conference, she said, is an intense experience. It was really great, she said. I found myself in a heated debate with a girl representing Georgia. She was from Michigan, and we were debating the World Bank. That kind of experience, Brazitis said, is what drew her into the model U.N. Another student, Nile Curry-Hughes, said she became involved because the model U.N coincides with her interests. It's one of the fields that interests me - arguing, discussion, she said. Preparing for the trip is no easy task, Curry-Hughes said. You've got to know (Norway's) views, and be able to speak as if you are that country, she said. The students will have more to do in Washington D.C. than represent Norway. While there, the students and Pagaard will see the historical sights of the nation's capitol, including all the memorials, the National Mall, and Arlington National Cemetery. They will also meet with Representative Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray. It's not just book learning, Pagaard said. I think they come away with a real good sense of history and government. "

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