Local U.N. chapter plans appreciation event

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2003

In recognition of United Nations Day, the local chapter of the United Nations Association-USA is hosting a "U.N. Appreciation Evening" Saturday evening at Soldotna High School.

According to UNA-USA member Paul Gray, the evening will feature international food, music and entertainment. Gray said the focus of the evening will be on getting information about the organization out to members of the public and celebrating the history of the United Nations.

"It's in celebration of the international United Nations Day," Gray said.

He said the idea behind the dinner is to inform people about UNA-USA and what its function is. Gray said UNA-USA is more than just a United Nations support society. Instead, it's a way to formulate grass-roots and local commentary on United Nations policies.

"It's more of a non-political effort to form United Nations decisions that are based on local input," Gray said.

He said that in addition to spreading information about the United Nations, UNA-USA also works to find ways to improve the U.N. system.

"It's a grass-roots advisory system," he said. "There's a lot of constructive criticism."

Saturday's event is free to the public, as is the food and entertainment.

Besides information on the United Nations and UNA-USA, Gray said the event will include information on Model U.N., a program in local schools that lets kids get an in-depth look at how the United Nations really works.

"That's a contest that goes on across the country," he said. "Each school represents a country. They go to Anchorage to do a model U.N., where they address the concerns of their country and try to form a consensus."

Teaching students about how international debates and issues are settled gives them a better understanding of how the world around them works, Gray said.

Additionally, Model U.N. can be an interesting and unique way to teach problem-solving skills, he said.

Saturday's dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Soldotna High School commons. The event will feature entertainment by actor George Holly, Model U.N. speakers, a U.N. video featuring Alec Baldwin and plenty of international food. Guests do not have to bring anything, though Gray did say anyone wishing to bring a dish is more than welcome.

"Bring a dish, but only if you wish," Gray said.

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