It’s Friday 9.50 am. Me and the other Bello-Belgo colleagues arrived good on time for the first general repetition for our 48 kids/delegates, the San Ignacio Model United Nations (remembering us the founder of the Jesuits Saint Ignacius of Loyola – like Koen’s high school). For the next three days, the colegio de San Ignacio – one of the most prestigious high schools of Caracas – was transformed into a UN building consisting out of 9 committees.
Welcoming 48 kids was a huge challenge : Providing formal apparel (costumes & dresses), finding 48 mattresses for the night (the principal was so kind to make a couple of classrooms available to sleep over), arranging breakfast/lunch/dinner…it was a logistic nightmare! Luckily Diego – our financial & logistics coordinator- managed to arrange it all.
Before proceeding, let me briefly introduce you the setting of the SiMun ’11. At this event, where debating-, negotiating- and diplomacy skills are being tested, approximately 200 delegates were present in 9 committees. In each committee, each (pair of) delegate(s) represented a country member of the UN to discuss a specific topic. The goal is to find together a consensus on a resolution paper after 3 days, as well as to stand out of your committee in a good manner, so that the Chair of the committee can reward you with a positive evaluation. Below, a short summary of the main committees we were involved in :
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The topic treated was ‘The transport of nuclear material by private corporations”. The delegates were supposed to find an agreement on whether to regulate this transport or to leave it at the governments to choose.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
In this committee, delegates were debating about ‘drug traffic on International Waters’. Questions like ‘how can an efficient surveillance on international waters be achieved’ or ‘can security forces enter another country’s territory to end drug traffics?’.
UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
In this room, the topic of ‘Indiscriminate fishing in the Antartic circle’ was treated. Here, the delegates had to make proposals to stop the indiscriminate fishing in a certain zone to prevent the consequences on the environment this activity brings with.
UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
‘Human traffic on Internation Waters’, this was the subject treated in the HRC. Questions like ‘How to prevent human traffic from happening’ and ‘How can the UN identify the people affected by this issue’ were mainly treated in this committee.
Together with our colleagues, we were assigned the task of faculty advisor. This meant we had to walk around and visit the different committees to observe and analyze the behavior and actions of our kids, so we could give some advice during two sessions in (4 sessions of 2 hours per day).
The first day was very interesting. Our kids barely dared to raise their placards to get involved in discussions, they felt obviously not in their comfort zone. “How could I ever win a discussion against students from prestigious high schools?”, “How to enter in a debate with such eloquent people?”, “Oh no, my preparation became irrelevant, what to do?”. These were only a few questions of many after the first day of sessions. Consolation and mental encouragement were necessary to keep their motivation high.
The second day, my team decided to give some instructions. Everyone had to write a 3-line summary after each session and one question. In this way, we were able to help and advise them within 2 sessions. Clearly this helped a bit, as some of them eventually raised their placards and said some relevant stuff. But the majority still suffered from a common problem : a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Clearly something we can work on the next few weeks, as the next competition – ViMUN – is scheduled in 2 months starting from today.
Every evening, after the daily sessions, there was time for some relaxation : having dinner together, learn some basic Spanish (indeed, these kids taught us something!), dancing on a weird Conga-song and playing some soccer and basketball (some of them played barefoot on concrete fields!) until we were exhausted. What would the final day bring? Tomorrow more news on that! Watch some first pictures here…