Mississippi College Welcomes Third International Economic Summit

December 1, 2011


MC business professor Chris Smith and Clinton High seniors Hunter Walker and Kiana Pauline

Mississippi College resembled the United Nations as hundreds of high school students converged on the Clinton campus to learn more about global economics.

To get prepared for Tuesday’s event, 500 students this fall studied the financial scene, culture and politics of 100 nations as part of the third annual International Economic Summit.

“You learn about different countries and how they live over there,” said Pearl High junior Maryann Hawthorne. Representing Zimbabwe, the 16-year-old stopped by a table reserved for Mississippi students knowledgeable about Italy to gain key financial information from that European nation.

At information-packed tables across Anderson Hall, it went on like that from morning until mid-afternoon before the students boarded buses to return to their Mississippi schools.

Last year’s second annual event at Mississippi College in April attracted 350 students from 11 Mississippi high schools. The conference date was moved to late November and statewide interest continues to grow.

Whether they took part in a geography quiz, a current events quiz, or tackled foreign aid, the students grasped a great deal of information. Some may become future global leaders.

“World trading can be very chaotic, but we are getting a lot done,” said Clinton High senior Kiana Pauline, who joined classmate Hunter Walker, 18, representing Uruguay in South America. In a few years, Kiana wants to travel to China, while Hunter hopes to visit Europe. About 50 students from Clinton High alone visited Mississippi College.

The students read about their country’s economy, political structure, imports, exports, natural resources and infrastructure needs with teachers guiding them in classrooms along the way. Teams of high schoolers were poised to negotiate and trade their way to enhance the standard of living in the country they represent.

Students participating in the international summit, said Clinton High teacher Sherri Ottis, are “learning so much about how the world works.”

They’re essentially getting familiar with the big picture about the economy on a global stage amid a troubled financial picture in the USA and abroad, educators say.

Some also picked up new insights into countries they weren’t really familiar with a year ago.

“There is a lot of cultural diversity in Turkey,” says Madison Central High senior Curtis Hensley, 17, who noted he was dressed in traditional garb from that Middle East country while his friends came attired like modern businessmen.

The conference was sponsored by the Center for Economic Education and Development at MC’s School of Business, the Mississippi Council on Economic Education in Jackson, and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance in partnership with the International Economic Summit Institute at Boise State University in Idaho. A similar conference for hundreds of other high school students is set for December 1 at Delta State University in Cleveland.

MC business professor Chris Smith, who directs the center on the Clinton campus, said the growth of the international summit has been amazing. This year’s conference is  much bigger with more students and countries, he said. The first conference at MC attracted 70 students from such schools as Clinton High, Madison Central High, St. Andrews Episcopal School in Ridgeland and Neshoba High in Philadelphia.

During this year’s conference, there was time also spent on weighty subjects like tariffs and bank loans, but also for things like costume judging and an awards ceremony. The sessions were both informative and entertaining, the visitors say.

“It’s fun to learn about how other countries trade,” said Rachel Lambert, 16, a Clinton High junior who joined classmate Paige Pellerin representing The Netherlands.

Created in 2009, the Mississippi College School of Business Center for Economic Education and Development works with the Mississippi Council on Economic Education to enhance economics education for teachers in area schools.

Mississippi Council for Economic Education leader Selena Swartzfager says Smith and School of Business Dean Marcelo Eduardo are very strong backers of the annual international summit. “They are huge supporters of the event,” she said.

For more information on MC’s Center for Economic Education and Development, contact professor Chris Smith at 601.925.3412 or Csmith@mc.edu.