Eleven Students Participate in European Union Simulation
When the fall 2017 semester ended last December, 11 students at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania began preparing for the international European Union Simulation (Eurosim). As part of a political science course offered over winter break the students, accompanied by L. Johan Eliasson, Ph.D., professor of political science, participated in Eurosim in Brussels, Belgium from January 4-7, 2018. The rigorous, four-day exercise strives to enhance participants’ knowledge of international law, the European Union (the world’s largest single market, largest economy, and emerging political union, consisting of 28 member states), negotiating strategy, and diplomatic protocol, by negotiating real life legal and policy problems. The 2018 simulation was held at the Free University in Brussels.
This year’s topic, border security and enforcement, brought together 165 students from 19 European and American universities and colleges, with more than two dozen nationalities represented in the student body. Each participating student assumed the role of a government minister, a member of Parliament, an agency in the European Union (EU), a lobbying organization, or a member of the media. ESU students represented the head of government and interior ministers of Finland, Lithuania, and Romania, four European parliamentarians, and the EU Data Agency. They studied and prepared (which included writing two papers and taking tests) before the trip. Then, over the four-day simulation the students wrote, modified and negotiated a legal, 32-page proposal on the Entry Exit System (EES) of the EU. The goal was to get all countries to agree and pass the legal proposal.
Daren Sealey, a senior majoring in political science, from Effort, Pa., represented Finland with classmate Gina Gatto. “This simulation gave me a really good understanding of how legislation works and how you have to negotiate to pass something that everyone can agree upon,” Sealy said. Gatto added, “One word can make all the difference in a proposal.” Gatto, a junior majoring in political science, from Morgantown, Pa., explained, “There was an article we were working on, and we wanted it to say something about crime. After talking it through we knew we didn’t mean crimes like shoplifting, so we changed it to say ‘serious crimes’ so it mean critical offenses like murder or espionage. One word can totally change the meaning of something.”
“I think I over-prepared. I read everything I could find,” said Noah Moradoff, a graduate student studying political science from Bellmore, N.Y., “I didn’t know what to expect, and I wanted to be ready.” He played an expert on data retention. This is something similar to an advocacy role. He had to talk his way in to committees of ministers and parliamentarians, and groups to have them listen to his expertise. “I was an authority on the limits of human rights,” Moradoff said. He read a lot about human rights laws in the EU to prepare. “But, the real learning happened once we got there. The hands-on experience is when it really all comes together. Actually doing the work makes it easier to understand.”
Hannah Bennink, a sophomore majoring in political science from Auburn, N.Y., didn’t know what to expect as she prepared for Eurosim. It was a lot more interactive than she thought and it gave her a much better understanding of the EU. “In just the first week of this semester, two of my classes already had discussions on the EU. I feel much more informed having participated in the simulation.”
Harneet Mandair, a sophomore majoring in political science from Easton, Pa., knew the how interactive Eurosim is. This was her second time participating. “I had my own personal thoughts about what EES should be. But I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t there to present my opinions. I was representing Lithuania, so I had to keep that country’s interests in everything I presented.”
Everyone works really hard, and even though it’s a simulation, it feels very real to the participants. Nobody wants to go home without passing the proposal. Dr. Eliasson explained that most times at Eurosim a proposal is not passed. This year, however, the students got it done. The proposal on border security passed unanimously.
The biggest takeaways for the students are diplomacy and negotiation skills. Learning how to work with other people representing groups, countries, and organizations by listening and compromising will stay with the students as they begin their professional lives.
Eliasson wants his students to learn from exposure to different cultures, norms, policies and laws. The hands-on experience they receive from Eurosim is unlike any other. It’s not just academic. They also learn from this as a social experience. “The students are able to connect and network with so many people from around the world.”
The 11 students who participated are Alexander Reincke, a junior majoring in political science from Stroudsburg, Pa., Hannah Bennink, a sophomore majoring in political science from Auburn, N.Y., Shannon Conrey a sophomore majoring in political science and criminal justice from Riverside, N.J., Gina Gatto a junior majoring in political science, from Morgantown, Pa., Ahmadu Jalloh a senior majoring in political science from Allentown, Pa., Harneet Mandair a sophomore majoring in political science from Easton, Pa., Melvin Mastishin a sophomore majoring in environmental studies and political science from Ashland, Pa., Ryan McAbee a junior majoring in political science from Portland, Pa., Stephanie Milanese Graduate student studying political science from Effort, Pa., Noah Moradoff, a graduate student studying political science from Bellmore, N.Y., Sarah Principe a sophomore majoring in exercise science from Stroudsburg, Pa., and Daren Sealey, a senior majoring in political science, from Effort, Pa. For more information about Eurosim, contact Eliasson at 570-422-3250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.