This past week Jack accompanied 16 other RVA students daily to Nairobi for the East Africa Model United Nations Conference. Nearly a thousand kids from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and beyond congregated in the actual UN buildings (there are only 3 places in the world like this I'm told, though I can't remember the one that's not New York or Nairobi).
These kids were African, Asian, European, American, all hues and backgrounds, from those who grew up a stone's throw away to those whose parents are posted here on diplomatic or business purposes. They conducted a week of speeches, resolutions, debates, and parliamentary procedures. Each school was assigned a handful of countries or organizations to represent, and then their delegates were divided between four major sections of about 200+ each: politics, economics, ecology, and human rights, with a smaller number sent to a special session that debated a few specific and varied topics.
Jack was assigned to represent the IMF on the Human Rights committee. The resolution he wrote was chosen for recognition as best in his committee, and I'm told he spoke very well (let me testify that the boy can argue a point). He had designed a program for Columbia to combat the use of human mules in drug trafficking. RVA received 4 other certificates for speaking, so netted 5 of about 20 awards given. (that's Jack in the blue shirt below).
One of our students, Daniel Letchford, was Secretary-General and gave a very inspiring speech in the last session in front of the entire thousand people. He pointed out that only opportunity, not merit, separated the kids in the room from their neighbors all over Africa, and challenged them to make the most of those opportunities.
I was able to join the last day, Friday, as an observer, and am so glad I went. This is a microcosm of the world, and these students will be the very people who lead us into peace or war in the next decades. By meeting each other, they formed understanding and bonds. They learned to debate issues with logic and passion. They got a taste of the political process.
Particularly poignant and urgent as Kenya approaches elections in two days . . .
This was as close up as I could get to Jack, blue shirt in center . . .