While many students are enjoying spring break, more than 140 students are at SBCC addressing issues including facilitating peace in the Middle East and North Africa, addressing global financial reform, debating crimes of violence against women, and feeding 9 billion people.

The 19th annual Western Collegiate Model United Nations Conference began Thursday morning with an address by Secretary-General Kulani Walker and will conclude Saturday evening with an awards ceremony and a closing plenary session.

Internationally recognized author and professor John Stoessinger, former acting director of the political affairs division at the United Nations, will deliver the keynote address at Friday’s conference banquet, which begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Fe Bland Forum of the Business Communications Building on SBCC’s west campus.

“We are glad to host the WestMUN,” said Dr. Andreea Serban, SBCC superintendent/president. “We are living and working in an increasingly global society. Teaching and engaging students in discussions about issues that have global impact and consequences is part of our general education mission.”

“It is great to see the future leaders of the world come together, taking time away from their school activities, work and social lives, in this academic forum to exchange ideas and insights into the world in which they live,” said Dr. Peter Haslund, faculty emeritus and president of the SBCC Board of Trustees. “Participants in the conference learn about the planet’s most important international organization, about issues that once seemed simple but in reality are not, and they learn something about themselves — their temperament, the ability to be patient, the capacity to think on one’s feet, and the willingness to help others understand what they seem unable to grasp on their own. This is the stuff that can ultimately make the difference between achieving one’s goals and falling just short of the mark. And we know it works!”

The Western Collegiate Model United Nations Conference simulates an actual U.N. session, giving students the opportunity to be a part of the world of debate, discussion and diplomacy. Delegates prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy and negotiate with adversaries.

The event is sponsored by the United Nations Association (UNA)-USA Southern California Division, the UNA of Santa Barbara, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Global & International Studies Program of SBCC.

— Peter Haslund, Ph.D, is a faculty emeritus at SBCC and president of the SBCC Board of Trustees.