Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The MUN experience -part four-

Sunday 10 April. The day of the final formal conference is here.

My friend and I arrived to LAU Beirut and it was still early in the morning. There were already quiet a few people there. The level of excitement in the air was much less today than it had been yesterday. It was obvious that many were still a bit tired from the previous night's festivities.

Before you knew it, it was 9 o'clock and people were starting to rush in separate ways to get each to their committee's conference room.

The session was as tiring and maddening as expected. Everyone was shouting at everyone else in an attempt to get their idea heard and the lovely Chair and co-Chair did nothing about it because apparently that was part of the learning experience. 

Finally, after 13 hours of screaming at each other, the session wrapped, the Chair spoke some words of encouragement for the future and congratulated us on being, and to everyone's surprise, the best committee he's ever had, we clapped and cheered and laughed, and then , everyone went their separate way.

Of course, considering the story wouldn't be mine if it didn't have a romantic part, I had developed a crush on the chair during the mock simulation and had hurried to talk to him at the end of the final session before all the crowds stormed in and had given him my number.

My friends from school and I gathered outside the university grounds waiting for the cab to come pick us up and drive us to UNESCO where the closing ceremony would take place. My smile was up to my ears.

The closing ceremony went great! There was a lot of laughing and making fun of some who were handed the microphone to speak without at all being deserving of such a privilege, but mostly cheering for when, against our wildest expectations, our school won an award. And we won three, me being one of the lucky winners of a Position Paper Award.

It was definitely a night to remember. Tired, no, exhausted, after a full day and waiting for the cab out on the street in the cold for about half an hour to take us to Hadath from UNESCO, we finally arrived to our friend Fares' home where my friend's dad would pick us up. We went in for a moment, and as we sat and chatted about the day waiting for our ride, it finally settled in that it was all over now...The training sessions, the conferences, the dressing up, the new was all over. And it had been the best experience ever.

As we had all agreed, none of us went to school the following day. I spent my day at home crying at the feeling of loss of something that I had been working hard on for the past four months, that sense of purpose that was tiring at times but also made you feel alive.

After the small period of depression, it was all good.

I was eventually told that Naji (the chair) had a girlfriend, which I was surprisingly OK with. We still talk as friends though, and I'm still in touch with many MUN friends. The best part now is that we'll get to go through it again next year as advisers which I can't wait to do!

Until next year!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The MUN experience -part three-

The day is finally here. Saturday April 9th 2011. The first formal conference would take place today.

As opposed to customary, and after our school officials having agreed to provide transportation to LAU Jbeil where the first conference would take place, we headed off to Jbeil as a group. After a long and winding road, tarnished by anxiety and nervousness while we could have been enjoying the lovely sights, we finally stepped on the school grounds. 

LAU Jbeil was definitely a different sight then LAU Beirut. I can't really describe how, but it was.

Our first stop was the area where the Global Village was to take place, an event where each country is offered  a stand allowing the students to present traditional foods and accessories to help introduce their country to visitors. We had fewer people than bags of clothes, food and accessories thus had to leave everything behind until the time came for the actual ceremony.

We dispersed and each went their way to join the rest of their committee waiting for the conference to start.

The day was planned as such; three hours formal conference, one hour brake, three hours formal conference, two hours preparation for the Global Village and finally three hours Global Village.

Thankfully, the conference hours were everything I had hoped they would be. I only spoke once during the speakers list saying my general position speech. I was really nervous as my time to speak neared. I was seated in such an awkward place that I had to prepare myself one speaker ahead of time. As I stood at the back of room waiting to be called I had to chance to talk to, I think he was an official but I'm not sure, who was standing there. He noticed how nervous I was and gave me a few words of advice that I gladly followed. A I finished my speech and went back to my place I looked at him and was ecstatic to see his smile of approval.

That was definitely the highlight of the conference sessions that day in addition to me picking a fight with the chairman during the unmoderated caucus for constantly mispronouncing the name of my country "Saint Kitts and Nevis" and repeatedly calling me either Saint Kitties or Saint Kittens.

Finally, the Global Village was here.

A few of our school officials had dramatically lowered their grade and come up to Jbeil to see us. They only stayed for a few minutes which gave us a little relief as to their sanity being intact.

Everyone started working on their stands. Everyone looked so excited to be there, and even though our stand didn't turn out to be half as bad as we had expected to, we still didn't know what to expect from the event.

And then it started, and it was definitely the most amazing event I had ever been in my whole life!

The music, the dances, the costumes, the food!!! Some schools had worked so hard on making this an unforgettable experience for their visitors and had definitely succeeded. I couldn't get enough of it! I took so many pictures and to so many people and laughed so much and screamed so much that it started feeling like an outer body experience towards the end of it. I was mostly glad to have seen the three closest friends I had made, Nour, Maroun and Patrick which I hadn't seen since the last training session, nearly one month prior to the event.

It was truly the most amazing experience ever and the only thing that had some of those previously not so excited about MUN, absolutely willing to do this again next year as advisers.

Only one more day to go...

Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The MUN experience -part two-

Welcome to the second part of "The MUN experience".

As of January 8th 2011 I was an MUNer.

Training session after training session I got to meet all sorts of people and go through all sorts of phases. I can't say I took it that seriously at first. There were definitely a couple of session solely dedicated to laughter and idiocy, but as we went further through the program, and as the time for assessment neared, I got more focused and considerably more aware of the fact that I had no idea how things were going to happen in the dreaded "Final Conference" when we were going to be evaluated.

To top it all off, Elianne (the librarian) was of absolutely no help; she knew absolutely nothing, couldn't tell us anything helpful and boldly acted like a know-it-all once the university sent her the guidelines that we were to follow in said or said matter. The times I wanted to just slap her in the face!!

Despite all of that, things were going remotely well. I still had no idea what the exam was exactly and how it was going to happen but that changed after a few weeks when Elianne announced that we had to choose which countries we would like to represent in the final conference where we would play the role of ambassadors each in a different committee.

My class wasn't really involved in the first part of the process since the older kids saw Elianne more and worked with her on it. It's not that we couldn't have payed the effort to see her during lunch brakes, but the sight of her when we were so infuriated by her indifference and unbearable character wasn't recommended to anyone.

The day finally came when we had to choose which country we wanted to represent and in which committee. The choices were Senegal and Saint Kitts and Nevis; a small island which I later found out I wasn't the only one to have never heard of. I ended up choosing the latter and the General Assembly 2nd Committee - Economic Financial as my committee. The choice was a completely random one with the next step being doing research about my country and the two topics addressed by my committee "Eradication of Poverty" and "Development of the Private Sector". The catch was that we had to do thorough research about both topics but only one would be discussed after a voting procedure.

I started my research soon after the mock simulation which was sort of a rehearsal for the real thing. All the students were there and the chairman that was supervising us then was the same one to be assessing us during the final conference.

The mock simulation went great. I made even more friends and laughed a lot but the best part was definitely that I had acquired a more concrete idea of what we were supposed to do and how we were supposed to behave.

All that was ahead now was the final conference, the last piece of the puzzle and the most important one.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The MUN experience -part one-

It was towards the end of the month of December 2010 that the librarian at our school came to us with the news of the launch of this years' MUN Global Classrooms at the Lebanese American University.

It was the first year our school participates at the event and it was only thanks to the insistence of our librarian on the importance of the students of our school to get the opportunity to take part in the event that out school officials agreed on entering the competition.

At first, the whole thing was a complete blur.

When Elianne (the librarian) first introduced the project all she said was that it was in English, that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity (literally since we were only allowed to participate once), that we had to attend seven training sessions set on the LAU campus in Beirut and that seven lucky winners of the first prize would be flown to NYC.

I was hesitant about putting my name up for participation at first mainly because of the problem of lack of transportation; I was sure even though my aunt had a car she would never agree to drive me to and from Beirut each weekend for two months. Everyone in class encouraged me to put my name in anyway and figure something out later. After many considerations, I finally decided I would do it and signed up to become an MUNer (as we started calling ourselves later on :P)

The first step for me was to try to find out how I would be going to these training sessions. I still had no idea when they were going to take place; the days, the time. I had no idea what was required, and every time I trying to ask Elianne about these details she would tell me that he would let us in on all the details in time. I trusted her and focused on finding a ride to the university and eventually found out that when of my classmates who lived in Kfarchima was participating as well and ended up going to the training sessions with him in the following months.

Our first training session, as we later found out, was set to take place on January 8th. 

When we first got to the university, on a particularly rainy day, we could just feel the excitement in the air. It was everyone's first (and only) time taking part in this and it was clearly no one had any idea what lay ahead.

The first shock was seeing that all the other schools had sent officials and teachers to monitor the students, in addition to advisers (students who took part in MUN in previous years). Everyone looked organized and more or less prepared, and there we were, ten students from SSCC Hadath standing in the middle of enormous crowds with no idea what we were supposed to do. Elianne had obviously dismissed the necessity of accompanying us and found almost offensive that we called her and asked her why she hadn't come along and whether she was going to at all that day.

The rest of the day was far more interesting...We were divided into groups in class  (purple classroom and proud :P) and mine was absolutely the best. We called our group sushi for some reason and spent the rest of the day (even after the group activity was over) laughing and "innocently" making fun of the stupidest things. It was probably just the nerves but at the end of the day we all felt like we had known each other for a lifetime and not just a few hours. The best part was definitely the fact that all 69 faces (:P what luck hun?!) were new; no two schoolmates were assigned to the same classroom.

That was the best end I could have hope for for that day.

I got everyone's phone number and we still talk from time to time.

(The story is still far from over but I think it would be better that I write it in small passages to avoid readers' boredom :P)

Stay tuned...