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Ryan Grizzle hopes one day to work for the United States government in international relations and politics. This summer the Old Dominion sophomore began to distance himself from future competing applicants.

A year from now, his resume will read: Secretary General of the United Nations ... well, at least in a student simulation.

Grizzle joins only a handful of Americans who have earned the honor of being named secretary general for Europe's oldest Model United Nations conference. When delegates from around the world meet again in July 2002, he will wield the gavel.

Grizzle was among six student representatives from Old Dominion's Model U.N. chapter to attend the 14th annual TEIMUN (The European International Model United Nations) Conference July 5-11 in The Hague, Netherlands.

The conference featured authentic simulations of formal sessions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice and the Middle East Peace Summit. Students, representing 28 nations, debated current issues, prepared draft resolutions, plotted strategies, negotiated with supporters and adversaries, resolved conflicts and navigated rules of procedure - all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve real-life problems.

Other Old Dominion participants included Norfolk residents Christian Hausler, a biology senior; Mohammed Khatib, a biology graduate student; and Matthew McBirney, a criminal justice senior.

Also participating were John Dermanis, a senior international studies major from Hampton, and Chris Rawls, a junior international studies major from Chesapeake. Jean-Philippe Gobeil Jobidon, administrative assistant for Old Dominion's Model U.N. chapter, accompanied the students.

The university's Model U.N. Society was formed in 1977 by a group of students interested in international affairs. According to Maria Fornella-Oehninger, director of Old Dominion's Model U.N. chapter, "The purpose of the society is to promote the further understanding of the United Nations, international issues and the global community."

Students from Old Dominion represented two different nations, with three representatives from China and two from Tunisia. Hausler, who also is president of Old Dominion's Model U.N. chapter, and Dermanis represented China in the General Assembly, and McBirney served as their delegate to the Security Council. Rawls represented Tunisia in the General Assembly, and Khatib was its Security Council delegate.

Grizzle chaired the conference's General Assembly. A six-year Model U.N. participant, starting from his high school days in Newport News, Grizzle said he enjoys the program because of the "opportunity to meet interesting new people." Twenty-eight countries were represented at the TEIMUN Conference, and that kind of diverse participation creates an excellent opportunity to interact and learn about people from different cultures, he noted.

After undergoing a rigorous interview process, Grizzle achieved the distinct honor of being elected secretary general for next year's conference, a position usually occupied by a Dutch student because of the need for close collaboration throughout the year. During the selection process, Grizzle submitted an application for review by the TEIMUN board of visitors, underwent an evaluation of his participation at this year's conference and had a 30-minute personal interview.

One of his first tasks will be to work with the board to select a chair and vice chair. He is also in charge of creating a staff, ensuring that they develop good topics for next year's conference, and providing the board with feedback on their progress.

"TEIMUN is the oldest European conference in existence," Grizzle said. "To be selected [as secretary general], especially being an American, is a great honor."

He is excited about future possibilities for the conference, noting that the number of student participants this year more than doubled that of last year. The quality of the speakers also is on the rise, which, Grizzle said, should help continue to boost attendance.

New to the conference this year is the Middle East Peace Summit. "With this peace summit we want to draw the attention to one of the most turbulent regions of the world. The attention will go to the possible progress of the peace process, the different views and the future perspectives," said a TEIMUN spokesperson.

"We hope to achieve a better understanding with the participants regarding the different aspects of the problems in the Middle East."

Currently, more than 200,000 high school and college students participate in the Model United Nations program each year.

This article was posted on: September 20, 2001

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