Model NATO Challenge 2021; 30 Students – 30 Nations

On March 17th 2021, 30 students demonstrated their leadership and diplomacy skills while discussing challenges facing today’s NATO Alliance.

This year’s topic was COVID-19. Although this pandemic is fundamentally a health crisis, its repercussions and effects stretch into other realms, including economics, trade, politics, diplomacy, security and defense, (dis)information, civil administration, human security and social cohesion. The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges that NATO faces in the midst of this pandemic environment.

Working in cooperation with Allied Command Transformation and Norfolk Public Schools, the Norfolk Festival started the Model NATO Challenge in 2007 to provide a unique opportunity for high school juniors and seniors interested in the advancement of international studies. It is a scholarship competition where the top 30 high school applicants are chosen to participate in a mock global crisis simulation. The scholarship program is designed to recognize the achievement of those student diplomats who have demonstrated excellence in the execution of their assigned responsibilities. Three scholarships will be awarded: $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000.

Each student represented one of the 30 NATO member nations and was assigned a mentor – from the represented country – who assisted in preparing the student for the Challenge while explaining their culture, national military resources and political backgrounds.

After last year’s cancellation of the Model NATO Challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event took place completely virtual.

“We will probably miss the opportunity of being physically together, but I am confident this simulation will be an enjoyable and effective mean to create a positive and lasting impression of the Alliance in your minds” said General Paolo Ruggiero, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation in his opening remarks. He continued, “this event is one of the great anticipated annual events hosted by the City of Norfolk, which gives, among other things, a unique chance to share our culture with the future generation, the leaders of tomorrow”.

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation continues to be committed to working with the local community through school visits, various high-level conferences, volunteer projects and upcoming outreach opportunities.

Thank you to everyone directly or indirectly involved in the event for their commitment, efforts and overall contribution to the 2021 NATO Model Challenge.