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UHD Celebrates United Nations International Day of Families at Crockett Elementary

Even as the spring semester comes to a close, students of UHD's Model United Nations (Model UN) chapter remain hard at work serving the community and representing the University around Houston.

At Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors of UN member countries. The students - also called delegates - debate important issues in today's headlines. They research hot topics, prepare resolutions, strategize debates and resolve conflicts by following the UN's rules of procedure.

Last week, UHD delegates - along with UHD Honors students, University President Bill Flores and First Lady Noël Bezette-Flores - visited Crockett Elementary School to celebrate the United Nations' International Day of Families, an annual UN event that celebrates the importance of women, children and families in the international community. Dr. Bezette-Flores is a board member of the United Nations Association Houston Chapter.

Crockett students and teachers decorated classrooms to represent different world cultures, and students gave interactive presentations, shared projects about each country's history, and tried unfamiliar foods. Crockett principal and UHD alumna Claudia Chavez-Pinto greeted and provided a campus tour for the students and accompanying faculty, including professors Michael Wilson, Maria Bhattacharjee, and Model UN advisor Merrilee Cunningham.

"It was a great opportunity to expose young kids to the diversity that exists all around them," said Model UN member Eisha Khan. "We have a great generation coming up, including ourselves, which will promote tolerance, equality and peace for all nations."

Khan, her debate partner Katy De La O, and UHD Model UN president Jeff Abraham won awards for Best Delegates for the Economic Council in recent Model UN and Model Arab League competitions at University of Houston's Honors College and Texas A&M-Commerce. The students are a tight-knit group with advisors who are well acquainted with Model UN and experts in their fields.

The Honorable Teta Banks - Houston UN Association (UNA) President and former General Consul of Liberia - visited UHD last week in collaboration with Model UN and the University's English Language Institute (ELI). Banks gave a presentation about the work of the UN, UNA and Model UN to strengthen communities, raise awareness of world issues, and promote peace among nations. She shared with students the numerous ways in which they can get involved on a local level to affect change globally.

"Involvement with Model UN and the UNA encourages civic engagement and commemorates the spirit of scholarship that educates students about world issues," Khan said. "The organization expresses pride in our University and celebrates the vibrant mix of student leaders at UHD."

With Banks's help, students aim to form a UHD chapter of the United Nations Association. A group of students will travel to New York City this summer to network with other UNA chapters, begin the chartering process, and tour the United Nations headquarters. The information event was a helpful recruiting opportunity. The ELI students, many of them from countries outside the US, were inquisitive, expressing great interest in getting involved, and even going on to serve as ambassadors and consuls in the future.

"As those who were directly affected by World War II are retiring, it is important that the UN engenders a sense of immediacy in the next generation," Banks said. "Think about the revolutions throughout our recent history. Who led them? Young people did - especially university students."