One of my first posts was about Model United Nations conferences and their importance.
The advantages I enumerated there were numerous and the conclusion was that development was inevitable. In light of my most recent MUN abroad conference I took part in, I want to reinforce and add to my post. And in order not to ramble too much, I want to focus on 2 aspects that made another MUN conference one of the best weeks of my life:
1. The advantages of a bright-minded environment
2. The power and results of pushing your limits/boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone
What I forgot to mention about the environment at such conferences is that the kids or almost adults that are taking part in it are not only people actively searching for self-development and for the creation of long-lasting international friendships but also bright minds that one can easily converse with.
There is something about this conferences that attract a certain type of people, people inclined to discuss, debate and challenge their peers, people prone not only to believe in conspiracy theories but also to research them, people with strong opinions but capable of sustaining them with arguments.
Through these discussions, I most certainly did not solve the mystery of how the universe was created or whether Al-Qaeda truly exists. But talking about what may happen in the Bermuda triangle or whether we are in fact ruled by a secret organization such as the Iluminati, made me see that I was not the only one with preoccupations and thoughts outside the sphere of interests of my classmates which consists of sports and computer-games. The boring closed environment of a classroom shuts down any such discussions and one tends to forget that they may not be alone in their quest for truth or illumination.
The people creating the high-level MUN environment (I am not referring to those who only attend MUN’s for the awesome nightly parties) are brilliant students whose thoughts I only got to find out because we were thrown in a foreign environment where all wanted to impress with their knowledge as well as their weirdness or capacity to think outside the box. All wanted to show that they are not fooled by the government or by those secrets societies, that they understand more than their average classmate and that they were above them. And in a way they were, just because they thought of doing so, they ignited a discussion that helped all of us ask ourselves new questions or put down some new works or ideas that we were certain to look up immediately as we reached Google. I for sure know I will research a lot of these newly found theories and questions.
To sum up this first point of my post I believe that the ideas discussed outside the conference doors could only happen because of the type of people MUN attracts and greatly enrich the conference experience. By such impromptu debates we all gained not only the impulse to research something new, but the assurance that we are not alone in this endeavor and that we need to always stay alert. Alert, yes, for conspiracies and not to be misled, but also alert not to stay far behind such eager minds that experience the same hunger, spiritual and thoughts hunger.
In order to move on to my second point I state the main impression I got back from the conference. It may sound obvious, but I forgot it, I had lost hope or I had simply lost motivation. The MUN week gave me my drive back and that was only possible because the following has happened:
a. I stated my goal: to receive the ” best delegate” award =>
b. I worked countless hours before the conference preparing, researching, documenting, drafting the resolutions =>
c. I worked even more during the conference: holding speeches, presenting my research, gaining allies, convincing people of my ideas, asking questions, making points of information, demolishing other delegates‘ speeches, trying to influence the voting and being alert all the time= >
d. I received my award, gained the recognition of my committee as well as met a bunch of new people I would have never met otherwise
This simple scheme reminded me that everything is possible if you are willing to put the effort into it. And I am talking about serious effort here.
I used to be a shy person. Talking with strangers –No,no. Public speaking – No, no. Asking questions – No,no.
Was there any possibility of affirming myself, getting my ideas known or receiving an award in those conditions? I think not.
So, I decided I would become a sociable person. I made a conscious effort not to stay in a corner of the room, looking into my Iphone but to go and talk to a stranger, to raise my placard and state a question, to ask for the floor and go and deliver a speech.
Before the train ride to the conference, which lasted for 16 long hours, I knew nobody in our group of 20 people. Needless to say through my conscious efforts not to close myself in, at the end of those 16 hours I knew everybody and made the first step towards becoming friends with many of them.
In my committee, at one point, two amazing speakers, students came in and acted the roles of delegates of two nations. At one point they started a Question & Answer session between themselves and I gathered up courage and joined them. Not only did I managed to defend my position, and make one of them my ally, but I also got more confident and imitated so to say their eloquence and style. I later found out that they were participants at the university level conference and I only got to meet those two amazing delegates and person because I had been brave. I also impressed my committee, being the only one getting in a debate with those two and later on I met those two guys again and received their compliments on my performance in the debate. I was so flattered and encouraged by those words and my self-esteem received a boost when I realised that this amazing delegate, older than me and so popular preferred to talk to me and continue our debate rather than go and sit with his delegation.
On the street, in the bus station, I overheard two guys speaking in my native tongue. They had no idea who I was or that I understood them. I normally would have listened to their conversation and waited for my bus. However, in my newly-found sociable spirit I turned to them and asked them if they were students from my country participating in the university-level conference. They responded affirmatively and we began a conversation. I still talk to them, back in my home-country, weeks after the conference. This would have never happened if I had acted as I normally would.
Anyway, such examples are many, and especially after receiving my award, I met a whole lot of new people who congratulated me. I finally got the courage and felt entitled to speak with those who had previously received such award or whom I had seen at previous conferences but had acted been too unimportant for them to notice me. I finally felt that I became an integrated part of the MUN world and am so deeply sorry I have to leave it since I am a senior. However I now look forward and cannot wait for the university level MUN and hope I can start there or the note that I left here. Plus the friendships I made now and the changes I feel that have happened in me concerning my motivation, my debating kills, my confidence and my public speaking will not go away.
Anyway, after a semester in which I suffered from lack of motivation or desire and felt purposeless, since my college application were already sent and nothing could have influenced my future anymore(or so I thought), this MUN conference gave all my drive back. Even though I only slept there 2-3 hours a night due to the amazing parties and worked for 8 hours in the committee sessions and some more beside them, I feel reinvigorated, fresh and ready to take on all challenges. I love this feeling and I love the new me. MUN’s are truly amazing experiences.