On October 26, NOVA sent a delegation of students (primarily Honors Program students) to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to attend the John C. Whitehead Conference on Diplomacy. The first conference of its kind, the DOS hosted students from across the country who are interested in learning about careers in diplomacy. NOVA students were joined by college students from 23 different states, including a delegation from Alaska. Throughout the course of the day, students attended several sessions where they learned about the mission and structure of the government’s diplomatic center.
Students had numerous opportunities to visit with career foreign service officers and DOS officials during the day. They learned about the cones of the Foreign Service, how to become a diplomat and diplomatic protocols. During the luncheon, students at each table were able to personally visit with diplomats and ambassadors.
The highlight of their day was participating in a crisis simulation. Based on their interests, students were assigned to a simulation regarding a global health, nuclear, environmental or a refugee crisis. Each student was assigned to represent a specific state (country), intergovernmental organization or nongovernmental organization in the simulation. Each state and organization in the crisis had differing (and at times competing) interests, policies, beliefs and preferences. Their task was to resolve the crisis while staying consistent with their actor’s positions. Students reported that the best part of the simulation was experiencing the frustrations and rewards of diplomacy.
At the end of the conference, NOVA students stayed for an optional reception where they learned about DOS internships (domestic and international), career civil service opportunities and how to apply for the Foreign Service Officer Test from DOS Human Resource professionals. Even if diplomacy is not a career goal, the NOVA Honors and Model UN Programs offer enrichment experiences, like this one, to students. If your students are interested in exciting opportunities like attending the John C. Whitehead Conference on Diplomacy, please ask them to contact your campus honors chair to see if the Honors Program or Model UN is a good match.