Students Gain International Experience During European Union Simulation

Each year LVC students travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in an exciting three-day European Union (EU) Simulation with students from other colleges and universities in the Mid-Atlantic region. Each school represents one of the 28 EU member states. LVC students have attended this event for the last eight years, making it a tradition that is well known and much loved.

The EU Simulation stems from the course by the same name, which alternates between Dr. Diane Johnson, department chair and associate professor of politics, and Dr. Philip Benesch, associate professor of politics, each fall. This year, students focused on Sweden and played the roles of national ministers or members of the EU Parliament or Commission. The theme of the directive under debate was the current migration crisis in Europe, a very timely and critical issue.

Playing one of the most significant roles of the 2015 event, Erin Eckerd ’16 talked about how the time in class prepared her to represent one of the commissioners.

“In the span of about two and a half months, the class covered the history of the European Union, including significant treaties, the political history of Sweden and recent Swedish policies regarding migration, and how the continent as a whole was approaching the migration crisis,” said Eckerd, who is studying international relations and Spanish. “It’s an intense learning process, but it’s worth it once the simulation actually begins.”

Eckerd, who also attended the EU Simulation the previous fall, had some pre-event work to conduct. As a commissioner, she collaborated with students from other colleges to create the directive that would be debated and amended during the simulation. 

Filling another major role as Sweden’s prime minister, Daniel Ricci ’16 spent time in meetings with other heads of government and delivered two brief speeches to express Sweden’s thoughts on the migration topic. 

“My favorite part of the simulation was the meetings with the other heads of governments,” said Ricci, who is pursuing a degree in politics. “As simulators, we bonded together over issues facing our countries, and as a group of students, we bonded over shared collegiate experiences before and after the meetings.”

For many participants, the EU Simulation provided a tremendous high-impact experience to confirm their career path. Marie Gorman ’17, who studies international relations as one of her three majors, participated in her high school’s Model United Nations Club, and looked forward to further exploration.

“Human rights and state-state conflict in the Middle East is one of my primary interests within the field of international relations, so this was a perfect topic to discuss,” said Gorman. “This experience expanded my knowledge in the area and allowed me to study, in depth, another facet of the complicated situation in that area.”

The students cited a range of benefits to participating in the experience, including a visit to the Swedish Embassy, increased awareness of European issues, and an increase in self-confidence and public speaking skills. These types of opportunities make a difference as the College continues to develop world-ready students as part of its new strategic plan, Envision 2020.

“The opportunity to step away from The Valley and spend time in the climate of Washington D.C., or any other cosmopolitan center—beyond the role of a tourist—is crucial for all LVC students,” said Gorman. “While the close-knit atmosphere of the College is important to foster individual expression and development, students need to be reminded of the significant political and international issues at large.”

 

Editor’s Note: Kems Sylvain ’17, Sarah Meinhart ’17, Desmond Daly ’16, Ben Fisher ’17, Taylor Frey ’16, Cooper Gerus ’17, Emily Johnson ’16, Hannah Reedy ’16, Dan Rotella ’17, Emily Sweeney ’17, and Kayla Zimmerman ’17 also participated in the EU Simulation in Washington, D.C.