International Experience Shapes Students’ Future Plans

Earlier this fall, Mikaela '19 and Shane '20 were selected for the 2018 Model International Criminal Court New Mexico team; then in late November, the team traveled to Krzyzowa, Poland, to participate with teammates from Germany, Poland, and Israel in a simulation of trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Model International Criminal Court is a program sponsored by the Kreisau/Krzyzowa Initiative based in Berlin, which teaches the core principles of the ICC to high school and university students.

The students from New Mexico, who this year represented Bosque School, Albuquerque Academy,  and La Cueva, East Mountain, and Sandia HighSchools, had to apply and interview before a panel of eight judges, prominent in fields relating to human rights. Together, the team tried criminal cases which had breached international humanitarian laws and had been tried by International Criminal Tribunals.

Shane was a judge on a case prosecuted in the Nuremberg Tribunals; Mikaela was a judge on the case of Drazen Erdemovic, who was prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia; and the last case that was tried was that of Simon Bikindi, who was prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

“My experience acting as a judge taught me a lot about the difference between fairness and the truth, as well as how the law is not perfect and doesn’t always align with morality; but officials still have to work within the bounds the system of law provides for them,” Mikaela said. “This fascinates me.”

Each group of prosecutors, defenders, and judges was made up of students from each country represented, so it gave the students an incredible opportunity to get to know others from different backgrounds.

“Through this experience, I have made so many connections with students around the world who are all interested in the same topics as I am,” said Shane, who added that the experience also allowed him to reflect on the privileges he’s been afforded in his life. “On top of learning about the ICC, we study major human rights abuses that have gone before international tribunals. I was shocked to realize that I had never learned about many of the tragic hardships people face far too often.”

“My biggest takeaway was experiencing a different court system and learning about a text of law that applies to all people, an experience made better by the diversity of people around me,” Mikaela said.  

The training and trials were held in a small town in Krzyzowa, Poland, which was the site of a manor house and estate that housed a resistance group during World War II against the Nazis. During their visit, Mikaela and Shane also had an opportunity to visit Berlin, Germany, and were in Amsterdam for a couple of days to visit the actual International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

“Coming into my senior year, I was planning on studying international relations,” said Mikaela. “For a while I was thinking about graduate school and had also considered law school. After this opportunity, however, I am almost certain that I want to go to law school. I want international relations before going to law school.”

Shane’s future follows a similar path. “My experience in Poland at the MICC conference in Krzyzowa, Poland, definitely assured me that I want to pursue international relations/law,” said Shane. “I would recommend this program to anyone interested in international law because it provides you such a great opportunity to study the functions of the International Criminal Court in-depth and with mentors who are really passionate about the subject.”

Congratulations to Mikaela and Shane and great job representing Bosque School!