Sleepy faces, fresh from a night long with parties and short with sleep, crammed into a five-star hotel conference room for the second day of Model United Nations or affectionately abbreviated, MUN.
Every year, all over the world, high school-ers and university-goers alike busts out the fancy suits and ties and pantsuits and short pencil skirts, and gather together for several days of intense discussion, cooperation, debate and resolution-writing.
This year, I found myself chairing a committee in the Asian International MUN, aka. AIMUN. As moderated and unmoderated caucuses flew around, a crisis broke out and the delegates went into frenzy, so much so that they mistakenly called a tsunami a “supernatural disaster” on several occasions. In light of the fact that none of these delegates speak English as their native language, plus it’s much too early to be awake, I just smiled and let them continue.
You can’t really even call it a room, it’s more of a space between the corridors that they’ve dug out in case of overcapacity. The space started to heat up with all the tension and negotiations bubbling up into the air. Blazers are slipped off and thrown aside and ties loosened to make way for more important items, like draft directives and sponsors.
It can be a grueling few days, especially when it comes down the final hour that will decide the life or death of pieces of draft resolution that contains all the sweat, words and efforts over the past several days. There is no end when the sessions are suspended, only brief moments of calmness in the hotel room to let the brain sizzle down slightly before someone knocks on the door to demand some more hashing out of details and wordings, and the possibility of working in another clause or ten.
There was the constant fear of being left out. As soon as the conference matured, you can see delegates breaking off into little groups, tight cliques that pushed and pulled one another. The nature of the organization makes it impossible to fly solo. On the bright side, it doesn’t matter if you represent a small country or a powerhouse, if you possess a solid knowledge base, a charismatic nature and an articulate tongue, delegates will flock around you. But isn’t that how the rest of the world works anyway?
When all is said and done, the experience is unforgettable. It’s a chance to be diligent, passionate, and laborious during the day and to let loose at night. It’s a chance to work with a pool of vastly diverse people, toward a common goal.
And if you are lucky and privileged enough, it’s an amazing opportunity to sit on the 193 thrones of the UN headquarters and vote on draft resolutions like real-world representatives do.
However, that particular morning I was at the head of the table, watching all the action instead of being an active participant in it. Although it was a lot less exciting and urgent a position, I had the power of the gavel. And that sent jitters up my spine.