A soft wind blows through UC Irvine’s Social Science buildings, cooling the intense heat of a late spring morning. Though it is a Saturday, the building is busy and filled with uncomfortably professional students. Stowed away from the heat, they are loaded into various classrooms to discuss and debate.
‘TB is a contagious disease that spreads like the common cold,’ I hear. From where I sit, I can see the top half of the speaker. Her black sweater and white collared shirt are crisp and would be suffocating if not for the powerful air conditioning. ‘Thank you, France,’ says the director from behind a table at the bottom of the tiered room.
Behind them are sets of perfectly aligned sliding chalkboards. The one on the right lists 56 countries, 18 of which have straight lines drawn through them. On the left is a white cardstock poster displaying the handwritten word ‘WHO.’ In this case, however, the word is not a question, but an acronym for the World Health Organization, an aspect of the United Nations that deals with global health concerns.
This classroom is being used as a committee room for the 13th-annual UC Irvine Model United Nations High School Conference. If only for a weekend, these 800 students, representing 24 high schools, have chosen to forego beautiful California weather. Instead, they concentrate on the discussion of global concerns from the perspective of their various assigned countries.
This particular room is host to a simulated World Health Organization, where students are tirelessly presenting the dangers of tuberculosis. ‘There’s a motion to have a five-minute informal caucus. All in favor