Area students hold Global Issues Seminar

Abi Luempert

The countries of the United Nations may have a thing or two to learn from the 200 seventh and eighth graders who pretended to represent them yesterday as part of the Global Issues Seminar.

The students who came to Kent State represented countries such as Egypt, India, Russia and Jordan, and talked about important issues that affect their countries. The five issues discussed were terrorism, environmental issues, education, wealth distribution and human rights.

“Terrorism is our biggest concern,” the representative of the United Kingdom said. “We can’t concentrate on education while bombs are dropping on schools.”

Bette Brooks, Outreach program director, said the Global Issues Seminar is “absolutely critical in helping students develop the ability to think beyond being American.”

Mike Sears, a social studies teacher at Shaker Heights Middle School, said he hopes his students will gain more of an understanding of global issues and U.N. operations.

Jerry Brodsky, founder of American Educational Consultants, said the program helps students to become more sensitive to global issues and allows them to realize the limitations the U.N. has when it comes to problem solving.

At the end of the seminar, a representative from every country presented its view on each issue and explained how the country would appropriate votes among them.

“They know a lot more than what I thought they would,” said Sue Illencik, a 1987 Kent State graduate and mother of one of the student participants.

Countries with a larger gross domestic product got more votes, and therefore, have more influence. The United States group had the most votes at 12,370 and decided its biggest concern was terrorism. The group who represented Liberia only had two votes to distribute among the five categories.

Sears and his eighth graders represented Ethiopia. They decided education is the most important issue for them.

Although they had 59 votes, they decided not to put them all to education. Their representative explained this is because if they show support for other areas that are important to other countries, they are more likely to get more help from them in return.

With literacy rates over 90 percent for both men and women in Israel, education is not much of an issue, but terrorism continues to be a major concern, their representative said.

The representative from China said environmental issues are its biggest threat because when trees are cut down, it causes the soil to become looser. So, when it rains, the loose dirt becomes mud and creates mudslides.

The students who attended came from 35 schools districts across Northeast Ohio. Each school had a team of five students who each represented a different country.

The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Curriculum Studies in the College of Education, Health and Human Services and the American Educational Consultants.

Contact College and Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Abi Luempert at [email protected].