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Sixteen members of Lafayette’s International Affairs Club will travel to Washington, D.C., Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to participate in the annual European Union Simulation sponsored by the European American Institute.

The students will represent Greek government leaders and diplomats in the simulation, whose topic is “Defense, Security, Rapid Deployment Force.”

The Lafayette contingent will be briefed by officials at the Greek embassy and participate in a teleconference with European Union (EU) officials in Brussels. They will also attend briefings, sessions, and official dinners with officials from the European embassies and U.S. government.

The students will spend much of their time in an effort to develop and pass a resolution calling for the creation of a joint EU army.

Representing Greece’s prime minister will be senior Tim Maroz of Belarus, Russia, an economics and business major. Junior Silvia Veltcheva of Racine, Wisc. (International Affairs), will serve as minister of foreign affairs. Sophomore Johan van Gorp of Hong Kong (history) will be minister of defense.

Sophomore Michael Lestingi ’04 of Tallmadge, Ohio (mechanical engineering), will be the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs. He is secretary of the International Affairs Club.

A dozen students will represent Greek members of the European Parliament. They include seniors Claudia Cornejo of Lima, Peru (International Affairs); Carl Haslestad of Longwood, Fla. (mechanical engineering); Claudia Meulenberg of The Hague, Netherlands (International Affairs); and Robert Murray of Sao Paulo, Brazil (International Affairs).

Juniors are Lauren Frese of Morris Plains, N.J. (International Affairs), Paul Kingston of Gettysburg, Pa. (International Affairs); Michael Kotov of Philadelphia, Pa. (economics and business); Kristin McGroarty of Hartland, Wis. (bachelor of arts in engineering); and Natalia Swiderska of Katowice, Poland (International Affairs).

Two are sophomores, Caroline Eshman of Darnestown, Md. (government and law); and Tessa Shambaugh of Flower Mound, Texas (government and law); and one is a first-year student, Konstantinos Bousmalis of Thessalonki, Greece (computer science).

Meulenberg is president of the International Affairs Club. Kotov is vice president and Murray is treasurer.

Three students have been designated as alternates, junior Vivienne Felix of Hollis, N.Y. (International affairs), sophomore Peter Totev of Oberursel, Germany (chemical engineering) and first-year student John Raymond of Verona, N.J.

One of the European Commission’s functions is proposing legislation. Lestingi recently traveled to Scranton, Pa., for a session with other EU commissioners from participating schools to pass a draft resolution. “It was a really amazing meeting,” he says. “We were very productive, and I’m surprised at how much 20 of us were able to accomplish in one day.”

The commission submits its proposals to the Council of the European Union, which enacts EU laws. The council includes Greek “Prime Minister” Maroz, “Foreign Minister” Veltcheva, and “Defense Minister” van Gorp.

The European Parliament acts as the EU’s public forum, in which issues of public importance are discussed and questioning of the Commission and the Council takes place.

Representing Greek members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee are Bousmalis, Cornejo, Kingston, Meulenberg, Shambaugh, and Swiderska. Representing members of the Citizens’ Freedoms & Rights, Justice & Home Affairs Committee are Eshman, Frese, Haslestad, Kotov, McGroarty, and Murray.

Rado Pribic, Oliver Edwin Williams Professor of Languages and chair of the International Affairs program, advises the team.

At its first lecture-meeting, the International Affairs Club learned about Greece’s geography, political structure, major industries, relationship with Turkey, and standing in the EU and United Nations.

“Since we are one of the few schools – if not the only one – participating in the simulation as a club and not as part of a specific class dedicated totally to the EU, we have to educate ourselves about the EU, its political structure, history, and so forth,” says Kotov.

The EU simulation team is attending mandatory hour-long meetings of the International Affairs Club every Tuesday to prepare. Lestingi was hired by the International Affairs program at Lafayette to conduct research and make presentations at each meeting. Guest speakers are also being brought in to provide more detailed information.

“From my past participation, I can say that this program lets you experience everything first-hand,” says Kotov. “Even though it is just a simulation, it is very close to the real process. Also, it makes students aware of what is going on in Europe and how the EU is being formed.”

Lestingi concurs. “This is an extremely worthwhile event, and I am always impressed by every school’s level of preparedness. You definitely learn a lot about the inner working of the EU.”

Categorized in: Academic News