JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Some South Mississippi teens are tackling issues on an international scale, from the spread of terrorism to fears over Ebola. On Thursday, students from three schools took part in a mock United Nations conference in Jackson County.
"With our growing military, we feel the need to be able to possess this device," one student stated.
Three Hancock County students took on the roles of diplomats from North Korea. They requested the right to test a nuclear warhead.
"This is just for protection," the young man said.
They had to state their case to persuade other countries to support them. They fielded some tough questions from other delegates.
"Who do you think you're trying to protect yourself from," one student asked the panel.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA and William Carey University hosted the first mock United Nations conference in Jackson County.
"It brings kids that have awareness of these global issues to meet with other students of similar interest and gets them to talk to each other and really get passionate about things outside of just our nation," said Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA Associate Executive Director Catarina Johnson.
More than 30 students from Bay-Waveland Middle School, Biloxi Jr. High and Pass Christian High had to pick a country, research the major problems in that country then go before the U.N. conference to fight for their cause. The top groups were chosen to present their case before the U.N. General Assembly.
"I've learned how the U.N. works, how important it is for other nations to work together to battle problems," said Bay-Waveland 8th grader Liam McKeon.
Many of those problems could spread to other parts of the world. For instance, one group looked at how Ebola in Sierra Leone could affect chocolate lovers.
"With the farmers getting sick from Ebola, they're not able to take care of the crops and which means there's no more cocoa. Which means price rises in chocolate, and we can't have that," said Biloxi Jr. High 8th grader Millie Perdue.
The students were being exposed to moral and political issues as they sought solutions to problems plaguing the world.
"We're trying to get medical centers and funding for our programs and education and doctors and just get the word out," said Millie.
"I've chosen the country of Oman. It's in the Middle East, and we've chosen it mainly because of terrorist threats from the terrorist group ISIS," said Liam. "We've asked the mock U.N. for troops, ammunition, all sort of resources that could help us defend our country."
Students who attend the conference may go on to compete at the state, regional and national levels.
"I learned a lot about Canada, a lot more than I thought I ever would, and it has been an amazing experience. I've learned more about politics than I ever thought I would, and more about government and how exactly it works," said Brynna Pustay, of Pass High.
"I think this is a passion for them. I don't think they'd be doing it if they didn't have the desire to go out there and make changes in our world," said Johnson.
Awards were given out for Best Written Proposal, Best Presenter and Outstanding Diplomats.