Lora Cook, administrative director for the Center for the Study of Europe, talked about how important it is that students learn about Europe and its influence on America.
“Europe is a major international partner with the US on many fronts — and our largest trading partner,” Cook said. “Students can learn a lot through understanding the similarities and differences between their own and any other form of government.”
After several months of preparation, students attended a day-long simulation in which they represented European Union nation states in the discussion of a particular topic. Students were challenged to give formal speeches and participate in informal negotiations in which they articulated their interest and positions and experienced the complex process of politics, European Union-style.
Katie Stahmann, from Lakeridge Junior High, represented Germany on the Migration and Asylum Committee. Moving into the second session, Stahmann shared her country’s stance on the issue.
“We are in favor of having regulations and rules for immigrants in other countries,” Stahmann said. “However, Germany definitely needs immigration, especially with our low birth rate.”
Savannah Eccles, a junior studying political science, served as a presidency member for the Migration and Asylum Committee. Eccles was impressed with the caliber of the students who participated in the competition.
“It takes a lot of confidence to stand up and propose your ideas to 30 or 60 other students,” Eccles said. “It teaches them how to be persuasive and to see compromise as how both parties can gain something.”
Mary Stone, from Lakeridge Junior High, believed the Model European Union competition is a beneficial experience for students.
“I find MEU to be very important. It is a great way to learn politics, public speaking, parliamentary procedure and what other countries are dealing with in modern day,” Stone said. “What I love so much about MEU is that it honestly teaches students about other countries’ problems, besides just the US.”
In addition to hosting the Model European Union competition, the Center for the Study of Europe encourages students to participate in presenting papers related to Europe at an annual undergraduate research conference, has its Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship program and holds a Cafe CSE series, where faculty members discuss a European topic while sipping Perrier around a cafe bistro table.