What in the world… IS GOING ON?

By Mimi C. Gregory, V.P. Programs, Naples Council
Board Member, World Affairs Councils of America

Gulf Coast winning HSAWQ team 2019

If you find that question challenging, then the Naples Council on World Affairs can give you the answer!

Part of a network of close to 100 Councils nationwide, the Naples Council began in 1981 when a group of residents, challenged by that very question, gathered to discuss world affairs on a regular basis. Today that nascent group has grown to 2200 active members whose interest in foreign policy and international affairs sustains a robust membership and a growing waiting list.

Clearly it is gratifying that our now indisputable “global world” fosters that much support in our community.

Nourished by a plentitude of resources, the Naples Council offers a Flagship Lecture Series comprising ten lectures from November to April addressing the most pressing foreign policy challenges our country faces today. Drawing from a compendium of experts who come from Washington’s many research institutes, nationwide universities, historians, authors, diplomats, journalists, you can see that the garden is ripe for the harvesting and the results, for our audience, are rewarding.

Great Decisions…

In addition to our Lecture Series, the Council offers participation in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions Program”. “PA”, as it is commonly known, is actually the New York City World Affairs Council and celebrated its Centennial Year in 2018.

Their annual publication of a briefing book, based on the eight most pressing foreign policy issues annually, fosters participation in discussion groups led by members of the Naples Council.

At this time, more than 830 of our members belong to 30 discussion groups in Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Estero.

MSAWQ 1st place winners Pine Ridge Team A

Reaching Out…

In 1989, as part of its educational outreach, the Naples Council on World Affairs undertook to develop a program of academic enhancement in global issues for area high school students. The Council decided that a Model United Nations program would be well suited to achieve this goal.

Other World Affairs Councils across the United States had been sponsoring Model United Nations programs for forty years. Simulating the actual working of the United Nations, Model United Nations programs (MUNs)have four purposes:

  • To teach negotiating, bargaining and communication skills
  • To represent a foreign perspective in a disciplined forum
  • To enhance awareness and inform students on critical global issues
  • To acquaint students with the workings of the United Nations

Underlining those skills were 237 delegates representing 13 high schools from three counties: Collier, Lee, and Charlotte and well over 100 NCWA members, all volunteers, were actively involved providing financial support, grading position papers, serving as judges, manning reception tables, and managing the overall endeavor.

30 countries were represented and among the committee topics ripe for negotiations were:

  • Disarmament of Terrorist Organizations and Radical Actors
  • Combating Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants
  • Access to Clean Water & Sanitation in Rural Communities

The winning schools and the countries they represented for 2019 were:

  • 1st: Israel, Port Charlotte High School
  • 2nd: United Kingdom, Gulf Coast High School
  • 3rd: France, Cape Coral High School

More than $30K in financial awards were distributed in scholarships, best position papers, winning teams, and most of all, the satisfaction that a new generation of students will remain aware and engaged in world affairs.

MUN judges

Academic World Quest…

The brainchild of the North Carolina World Affairs Council, the challenge began as an adult after dinner game quiz, often failed by the participants, but mercifully moved into the schools where the challenges were met with a greater accumulation of wisdom!

The annual High School Academic World Quest Competition demonstrated once again the diligence and knowledge of the region’s high school scholars.

On March 2, nearly a hundred students on twenty-four teams from Barron Collier, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Naples, Palmetto Ridge and the Community School of Naples battled it out for prizes and bragging rights in answering a set of tough questions supplied by the World Affairs Councils of America. Topics included:

  • “How to Deal with North Korea,”
  • “The Global Refugee and Migration Crisis”
  • “Focused question rounds on Qatar and Japan.

Gulf Coast High School, winners once again, went to Washington for the national competition.

The success of this program inspired…

Middle School Academic World Quest…

This event was hosted by the Community School of Naples on March 23. This year nine local middle schools participated with 38 teams totaling 155 students.

The hall buzzed with enthusiasm during the event. The best comment that we receive from many of the coaches is “The kids love it!”

All students receive a certificate of participation. The top three teams receive “In Honor of Academic Excellence” medals, and the winning school receives a trophy which they retain for one year for the school trophy case.

The winning team this year, retaining the trophy, was Pine Ridge Middle School Team A with the outstanding score of 88 out of 100 points. In second place was Oakridge Team A and in third was Pine Ridge Team B.

Academic World Quest’s successful programs are part of the School Outreach Committee whose mandate includes an impressive list of scholarships that are given to a group of juniors and seniors annually.

In 2019 we sent eight junior year students overseas through the Experiment in International Living to broaden their experience and understanding of global issues, culture and politics; and we sponsored six high school students for a trip to Washington, D.C., and a week at Georgetown University to take courses and engage in seminars on International Relations and National Security.

This coming school year of 2019-2020 we will have several students participating in a new scholarship offering: The Global Scholar Program. Beginning as sophomores, the students will complete advanced studies in varied world affairs courses and three years of study in a language of their choice. This program will offer some internship opportunities with the Foreign Policy Association in New York and the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. The goal is the continuum of global awareness.

Finally, we are proud of our mission: to educate, inspire and engage our community in international affairs and critical global issues.

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