Student camp focuses on peace

July 25, 2010|By HEATHER LOWERY


More information about UNESCO Center for Peace or the summer camp can be found at

Students from around the world are learning methods for peacefully solving conflicts during the Frederick, Md.-based UNESCO Center for Peace's fourth annual International Model United Nations summer camp.

The approximately 60 students attending the conference are residing at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Hagerstown during the camp, which began July 18 and runs through Saturday.

The point, organizers say, is peace.

"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed," said Guy Djoken, executive director of UNESCO Center for Peace, quoting the UNESCO constitution.


"We all come from God, we are all human beings, and we are one in this world," Djoken said.

UNESCO -- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- is a branch of the United Nations that strives to promote peace around the world through education, science and communication.

In one of the conference rooms of the Clarion Hotel on a recent day, students from a variety of nations were working together to find their similarities, work through their differences and banish stereotypes.

"Group one, you are Muslims and you're getting tired of people calling you terrorists. Group two, you are Jews. Now discuss the pros and cons," Djoken challenged the students attending the cultural diversity workshop.

The countries represented at this year's conference are Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, France, Haiti, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Sweden and the United States, Djoken said.

Geonhee Kim, 18, of Seoul, South Korea, said she found the camp while researching on the Internet and is attending "because I am interested in getting a U.N. job."

"My mom told me it would be better to learn about other people and where they come from, and so I'm here, and I like it," said Kamara Sylvestre, 15, of Long Island, N.Y.

For 21-year-old Hungarian student Nora Suranyi, the summer camp was the chance of a lifetime to visit the United States.

"It's a bit expensive to travel to the United States, so this is a great way to come. It's a great chance to meet people all over the world. And it's good when you're speaking about this camp when you go home because everyone finds it so interesting," Suranyi said.

Nancy Zou, 19, of Chengdu, China, said that during the group's trip to Washington, D.C., she was impressed by the Vietnam memorial.

"When I saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I thought it was the greatest thing," Zou said. "Every dead soldier's name was on there. I saw a woman there and she was searching for a name. It's really considerate. We never do this in China. We build the memorial and put the number on there, but not the names."

Marlon Shou, 19, from Australia, is at the camp to translate for the Chinese campers.

"It's pretty tough (to translate), because I was born in China but I moved to Australia when I was 5, so my Chinese isn't great. I get to practice my Mandarin and meet new people," Shou said.

Airon Elms, 14, of the Philippines, responded enthusiastically when asked what he would take home with him from the camp.

"I'm going to fight for my rights and fight for what I believe in," he said.

In addition to workshops and the trip to Washington, the campers' schedule included three days at Hood College in Frederick for model U.N. sessions, a visit to the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to learn about the Hubble telescope mission, and a trip to New York City.

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