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190207mnc01 400Young Americans Engaged with Allied Nations.

Student diplomats from Hampton Roads area act as members of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal decision-making body, during the annual Model NATO Challenge. The challenge requires students to have a thorough understanding of the Alliance and how NATO operates. Part of the Allied Command Transformation Student Diplomat Programme, Model NATO Challenge provides an opportunity for command mentors to reach out to the local community. Mentors and students met February 7th for the first of four orientation meetings, geared towards equipping students with the tools and the diplomacy needed to take part in NATO-level discussions on issues including a simulated exercise requiring group deliberations and decision-making.

"The Model NATO Challenge gives local students the opportunity to learn about NATO and its contributions to peace and security in the world by exposing them to the complexities of operating in a multi-national consensus-based environment," said Admiral Paul Bennett, Chief of Staff to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. "I also hope to learn from their perspectives," he added.

The Model NATO Challenge raises awareness about NATO’s role and challenges in the world, encourages analytical thinking, and offers the opportunity to develop insight into a member country’s political, military and cultural background. Students are tested on their capacity to discuss, engage, argument and resolve complex security matters modelled after real NATO problem-solving techniques.

Local high school students are selected to serve as student diplomats by participating in an essay contest that demonstrates their knowledge of NATO and its member nations. The top six candidates will receive a scholarship award to be applied to a college or university of their choice.

Since its inception, the goal of NATO has remained the same: to preserve peace. At the heart of this forum, and of NATO, are the shared values that bind NATO member nations together; freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These values shape the manner in which democratic leaders and democratic countries contribute to international security and stability.

The 2019 Model NATO Challenge is one of several events leading up to the main week of the annual Norfolk NATO Festival April 25-27. Events also include a 29-country flag raising at the Norfolk Scope Plaza and a parade in downtown Norfolk followed by a salute to NATO Nations in NATOFest at Town Point Park.

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