University of Lynchburg students returned victorious from the Mid-Atlantic European Union Simulation in November.
The LC delegation represented the United Kingdom among 15 college and university teams that included a total of more than 160 students. The conference participants debated and amended a resolution about how the EU could deal with the current migrant crisis.
During the conference in Washington, D.C., the LC students drew several accolades, said LC political science professor Dr. Marek Payerhin. Four of them representing European Parliament members — Emily Harmon ’17, Alexis Jensen ’16, Chibuzor Ogbonna ’18, and Benjamin Weiss ’16 — were elected chairs of major party groups.
Alessia Duran ’19 was elected the rapporteur of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Ryan Connors ’16, Kevin Conley ’17, and Christopher DeCarmen ’16, representing Her Majesty’s Government, demonstrated political prowess by pushing for and obtaining an “opt-out” from the otherwise unanimous European policy, a key piece of the platform the LC delegation took to the conference. Corey DeVore ’17 received the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.
Corey said the EU Simulation challenged him and his classmates to practice the art of debate, communication, and compromise. “It really tests your knowledge and your ability to work with others,” he said. “Dr. Payerhin did a wonderful job preparing us. We went there with everything we needed. He got us in a great position to go and know what we were arguing for.”
Although most students will not go on to have careers in European politics, the skills they developed for the simulation carry over into numerous aspects of life, Corey said. “The thing I picked up the most was the ability to persuade people, argue a point, and make a personal connection with it so other people could see how important it was to me and take what I was saying seriously.”
The conference topic was timely not only because of ongoing questions about how to respond to thousands of Syrian refugees seeking safety in Europe, but also because of a violent attack in Paris that stoked fears of terrorists infiltrating Europe under the guise of refugees. The attack happened while the LC students were in Washington, D.C., for the conference.
“The developments in Paris heightened everyone’s awareness that these were not some abstract issues of little consequence to our lives,” said Dr. Payerhin.
The EU Simulation students recently were featured in a story in the News & Advance about how college students are learning about the migration crisis.