Monday, December 7, 2009


[ Bonn International Model United Nations ]

Arriving at the registration in Bonn was very overwhelming. There were so many people and I heard side conversations all around me in English, German [and probably just assuming that the other languages were discussing the same things] about national policies and getting ready for some dramatic debates. I really had no idea what to expect – this seminar was supposed to be filled with drama? – I didn’t even know what I was going to be doing with all the research I had completed.

The opening ceremony didn't really clarify for me how the actual debates would take place, but it gave me a better sense of understanding of just how big and in depth the conference was. There were delegates coming from over 52 countries at the conference, and different seminars ranging from the General Assembly, to UN Environmental Program, to the International Labor Conference [the conference I participated in] and all had controversial topics generally pertaining to the incorporation of the current economic crisis, emphasis on the environment and global warming, as well as international security at the same time.

[ Opening Statements in the historic Waterworks building from the former political campus of Bonn, Germany where West German Parliament was once held - now utilized as a United Nations hub in global politics! ]

We heard many inspiring speeches about how important understanding global warming was, and how crucial international understanding is to promote solutions in our new globalized society. One valid point particularly stood out, especially pertaining to my role in the Labor Conference: “As our markets are becoming more global, protection and law remains national”. In other words, amongst the crises of today, there has been a rapid realization how interconnected our global markets are, but how little collaboration there is to defend fair trade protection, humane working conditions, and a balance to promote environmental conservation at the international level.

Feeling rather professional clad in my suit, pea coat and toting my laptop messenger bag amongst other young diplomats chatting in different languages as we all dispersed to our designated committees in the huge expanse of the Bonn UN conference campus, I had a little wakeup call at how big this event was – being in Germany for 4 months now made me come to Bonn feeling like this was already home to me, not too far away. For others however, traveling from hours away – even different continents! – this was a week that meant big learning experiences, professional opportunities, and unleashing some rhetorical skill to garner better outcomes in resolutions for their representative party. It is not that I didn’t feel the same – it is just that I realized instantaneously as our committee came to order that this was not fun and games – these students were serious.

The first few hours before our first scheduled coffee break had me hooked – I now understood “the drama”. As much as this conference was about solid research and better comprehending how different states function in international government – especially the one you represent – it was also just as much about acting and getting a bit emotional in the debates as well. In Model UN there are no awards, there is no “winner” per-say [ after all, there is no "winner" or "loser" in the world when trying to promote fairness and resolutions to global issues... well I guess that depends on how your nation thinks ;) the drama begins!] – so as the conference started I wondered what the motivation was to create a hypothetical solution to these global issues with the involvement of these international representatives. After opening statements and swift arguments and counter-arguments pointing pressing issues on who is to blame and who is responsible to fix the issue of global warming while promoting employment in the economic crisis, I realized that more you “became” your institution – the more you really thought like them and emotionally reached to used all of your accrued statistics and research to your advantage – the more you wanted fairness to be observed for your party. It sounds as rudimentary as elementary school - you can't force someone to think like you, you have to explain and propose how you think to them; coerce them - yet note that this is a simulation of diplomats arguing at an esteemed collaboration on the international level.

The committee sessions were extremely formal and we had to follow strict procedural rules in terms of speaking time, voting on the manner we would debate [moderated, unmoderated, formal debate ect] as well as the language we used [ any time we spoke we had to refer to ourselves as we or our delegation, and refer to others as distinguished delegate of ___ ect to refrain from forfeiting our very valuable speaking time due to points of order]. In the beginning it sounded a bit extreme and redundant – but this was the real UN [ in our imaginations ] and therefore it is only natural to elicit utmost respect to these international delegates to produce the most proactive solutions possible with many conflicting views from different parties.

[ Festivities at the International Night on the day of our arrival - an opportunity to meet and greet and share music and food representing the delegates from over 52 countries taking part within the conference! ]

There was a lot for me to learn procedurally as well as the meaning of the simulated conference, and this reflects on only the first few hours of the week – there was a lot of learning left to go, and a lot for me to learn about German Industries' role in world politics as well.

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