Connor Frasier gives a speech at the Colorado Model UN general assembly Thursday in Olympian Hall. The event drew 125 middle school students from seven school districts.

Photo by Scott Franz

Connor Frasier gives a speech at the Colorado Model UN general assembly Thursday in Olympian Hall. The event drew 125 middle school students from seven school districts.

Steamboat hosts model UN conference

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Graham Houtsma, an eighth-grader at Aspen Middle School, represents Argentina on Thursday during a Colorado Model UN program in Steamboat Springs.

— Connor Frasier learned a valuable lesson Thursday during a model United Nations conference: You don’t always get everything you ask for.

“But the debate is fun,” the Steamboat Springs Middle School eighth-grader said after he addressed 125 students from a podium in Olympian Hall and asked them to “approve” funding for Sierra Leone to support farming and quell rebel activity.

He told fellow students that although a major civil war ended in the country in 2002, its people still need help from the U.N.

“There still are a lot of people emotionally and physically scarred,” he said. “There’s just a lot of recovery that’s needed.”

Not every country was ready to pledge its support for aid.

Twenty-two countries voted on Frasier’s resolution, which failed after the opposing countries evenly matched the number of supporting countries. The imaginary motion’s fate will forever be locked in an imaginary tie.

The inaugural Colorado Model UN conference in Steamboat Springs was a two-day affair hosted by the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Julie Dalke, who organized the program, said middle school students from seven school districts — including Steamboat, Hayden, Soroco, Aspen, West Grand, Moffat County and Eagle County — spent Wednesday and Thursday debating and eagerly representing U.N. countries from across the globe.

Dalke said Thursday’s general assembly marked the culmination of the students’ hard work and dedication that started months ago.

“I was very impressed with the kids’ debates, their research and their professionalism,” Dalke said. “We wanted them to learn about different cultures, what the U.N. does, and the importance of having a peacekeeping organization. These are big issues they’re tackling.”

While several students saw their proposals for their countries rejected by the U.N., many were able to celebrate diplomatic victories.

Students narrowly voted to remove Bashar al-Assad from office in Syria and provide the country with humanitarian aid in the wake of the ongoing bloody revolution. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also received funding to close its borders and mitigate the drug trade.

Toward the end of the meeting, a plea from Tuvalu, a Polynesian island nation, to better address climate change and rising oceans was met with a rebuff from representatives of Italy, who told the country they should instead invest in walls to keep water out.

But amid all of the debate, students said the relationships they established with other countries — and school districts — were cordial and fun.

“Today was pretty exciting,” Craig Middle School student Wesley Atkin said. “I learned a lot about Fiji and I got to meet a lot of new people.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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