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HAMMOND | More than 300 high school students attended a World Affairs Conference at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond to discuss whether world peace is possible and why they should care.

The daylong conference was sponsored by Rotary International District 6540, featuring PUC political science professors Richard Rupp and Meg Rincker. The pair discussed the roles the United States and United Nations play in managing global armed conflicts.

Students watched a video featuring former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, who is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. The group also analyzed the conflict in Syria and debated the best time for the international community to intervene.

Munster High School junior Niko Ingoglia, 17, said the conference offered him different ways of thinking about world problems and Syria's situation.

"Young people like me should care about world peace because it's going to affect the political and economic situation we will inherit when we're adults," he said. "I think Syria is becoming a dangerous situation. It's complicated. I don't know how much the United Nations can accomplish. It will be interesting to see how it will turn out."

Highland High School senior Catie Russo and George Gajda, a Thea Bowman Leadership Academy sophomore, don't believe the United Nations is doing enough in Syria.

"Syria is a mess," said Russo, 18.

"It's hard for us, at our age, to fully understand the depth of what's going on over there but we need to understand it. No one country can fix the problems alone, but I think the United Nations can do a better job," said Russo, who plans to major in international business at either Indiana University at Bloomington or the University of South Carolina.

Gajda, 17, said he thinks the goal of stability is achievable.

"If there were no peace, there would be violence and chaos across the world," he said.

Gajda also said the 60,000 deaths that have occurred since March 2011 because of the Syrian crisis, the country's 1 million refugees and 2 million internationally displaced people are a concern and that the United Nations is going to have to step in and do more.


Education reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.