Converse Debaters Score Big at National Conference
For the second consecutive year, a group of Converse debaters earned Outstanding Delegation honors in the national Model NATO Conference in Washington, D.C Feb. 22-25. The award is the conference’s top honor. Members of the Converse team also earned four of the five Committee Leadership Awards and the single Outstanding Chair Award.
The 22-member Converse team squared off against delegations from 18 other colleges and universities from throughout the US and Canada in the 21st annual conference. Other institutions included Virginia Tech, Howard University, The Citadel, Kent State University, the United States Naval Academy, Youngstown State University and Howard University.
The conference is a simulation of the workings of NATO with each participating institution representing a member state in such areas as nuclear planning, defense planning and political-military relations. The Converse delegation represented Canada and Estonia. The Canada delegation was named Outstanding Delegation and the Estonian delegation (comprised of Converse students in their first year of Model NATO competition) received Honorary Mention.
Upon their arrival in Washington, each delegation was briefed by ambassadors and other representatives of the country it represented. Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, and Brigadier General Antonello A. Vitale , Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, officially opened the conference by discussing NATO’s operational transformation and its changing role in the world. Carmen K. Iezzi, Education Coordinator for the Atlantic Council, also provided remarks on “NATO and the Successor Generations.”
Students represented the members of various committees and were assigned assigned a variety of issues, including NATO-EU relations, NATO’s role in Afghanistan and Iraq, and defense against terrorist or small-state nuclear threats for which they had to prepare draft language to be used in a final communiqué from the NAC. Converse students Tina Rohner ’06, Kelsey Nichols ’08, Baye Williamson ’08 and Grace Bagwell ’07 all won Committee Leadership Awards. Grace also won the single Outstanding Delegate Award in the Working Group on NATO Operations. The faculty sponsors voted Sarah Walters ’08 as the Outstanding Chair.
The entire Secretariat Operation was led by Converse students with Holly Jordan ’06 serving as Secretary-General. As Assistant Secretary General, Elizabeth Mayes ’07 chaired the National Atlantic Council. Mahal Woldetsadik ’08 chaired the Political Affairs Committee with Yosabeth Weldemedhin ’08 serving as her Vice Chair. Sarah Walters ’08 chaired the Defense Planning Committee with Lucy Johnson ’08 as Vice Chair. The Nuclear Planning Committee was chaired by Mallory Beckett ’06 and co-chaired by Kelsey Nichols ’08. Nicole Poteat ’07 chaired the Working Group on NATO Operations with Katie Moore ’09 serving as Vice Chair. Nora Nassri ’08 and Candy Kunze ’08 represented Ukraine and Georgia respectively as members of the Partnership for Peace group.
Other members of the Converse delegations were Courtney Clark’06, Anne Fagge ’09, Melanie Harrison ’06, Jodi Hylton ’08, Sarah Moser ’09, Megan Madison ’09 and Danielle Peregoy’08.