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May 7, 2002


LA CROSSE, Wis.—While most college students were partying, sleeping in, or cramming for exams, Viterbo University junior Taka Kuvaoga, from Zimbabwe, was debating the merits of democracy, proposing solutions to the Middle East conflicts, and listening to the wisdom of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Lech Walesa.

As an attendee at the 26th annual Model United Nations Conference at Minnesota State University at Moorhead on April 18-21, Kuvaoga served as the model United Nations delegate from Jordan and was assigned to the Political and Security Committee.

Kuvaoga participated in the conference at the culmination of a Model United Nations class he audited at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse this spring. The entire class made the trip and, in addition to Jordan, its members were assigned the countries of Mexico and Brazil. Impressed with the ease with which the students handled tough issues, Kuvaoga said, "Students don't bend to the status quo. In real United Nations discussions, the debate often gets bogged down by delegates who carry the pride of their countries with them."

As part of the Political and Security Committee, Model United Nations members were assigned the difficult task of looking at solutions to the crisis in the Middle East. Kuvaoga wanted to be a delegate from Jordan so he could more specifically address this issue. "Jordan is a key player and I had the opportunity to pose a resolution in the current Middle East crisis," he said.

The leadership skills and peacemaking efforts of Jordan's delegate didn't go unnoticed. Kuvaoga was named Best Delegate of his committee, which meant he best represented his country and the ideals of the United Nations.

The experience at this four-day event will pave the way for Kuvaoga's next United Nations assignment-as a participant in the United Nations Intensive Summer Study Program through Seton Hall University in New Jersey from May 20-24. Designed to immerse undergraduates and graduates in the political dynamics of the United Nations, the program will take place at the United Nations building in New York City. Participants will attend program sessions, sit in on official United Nations meetings, interact with high-level diplomats, and hear from ambassadors and officials from many United Nations departments, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Kuvaoga hopes this experience is only the beginning of his international political career. After his experience in New York, he hopes one day to return to the United Nations as a key player in international relations.

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