United Nations in the North
United Nations Club plans trip to UN Headquarters in New York

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 21/00) - The regular Monday night meeting of the United Nations club was not at all regular last week.

The usual eight club members gathered in Room 132 at the college's main campus, but it wasn't to read and discuss UN business, it was to listen to the Bolivian Ambassador speak.

Roberto Jordan Pando, who arrived in Iqaluit last Monday afternoon, is the eighth United Nations ambassador to visit the territorial capital.

"Having an ambassador come here creates a greater interest for our club members and it makes learning about the country and the UN a lot more real," said Julia Saimaiyuq, who has been in the club for two years and is taking the interpreter\translator program at the college.

"When an ambassador is here it reduces the amount of reading we have to do because we can ask questions directly to them and listen to what they have to say."

Saimaiyuq has also met the United Nations ambassador from Panama and has travelled to New York City to participate in a mock assembly at the United Nations headquarters.

"Going to New York is a great learning experience," she says.

"I remember the first time I saw the word New York on my ticket, it just didn't seem real."

And now, as the group fund-raises for an April trip to the Big Apple where they will again participate in a mock assembly representing the country of Barbados, club co-ordinator Ramon DeLuca says Arctic College is one of 18 schools in Canada participating in the UN program.

"I started the club in 1989 because I saw other schools in Canada travelling and participating and I wanted to offer the same to the students here," said DeLuca.

Arranging for an official visit from an ambassador takes about a year of preparations, says DeLuca, who is already planning a trip to Bolivia for next year where club members will likely meet the president of the country.

"Travelling around the world and meeting heads of state gives the students a chance to extend themselves and also act as ambassadors."

And what's involved in an official visit from an ambassador to the capital of Nunavut? A lot of touring, visiting schools, dinners and speeches, and even a little hunting.