The range of courses offered at VRG Djursholm is wide and one of the courses pupils may choose is International Relations. As part of the course, a group of 16 students from this years’ class went to New York City during a week to take part in the 40th NHSMUN conference.
Every year in March, NHSMUN (National High School Model United Nations) hosts an impressive 3000 participants from 150 schools and upward 20 countries in a conference where they get to represent an assigned nation and its delegation in a simulation of real UN committee and plenary sessions.(http://imuna.org/nhsmun/about-nhsmun) This is a one of a kind experience, a gathering of students from all over the globe as well as the NHSMUN staff, all dedicated to preparing and achieving a successful model UN conference during an intense couple of days.
As for the students from VRG, the country that we were assigned to represent was Tunisia. Then we all got to choose which of the approximate number of 20 available committées we liked to be in. The committees all correspond to the actual committees of the United Nations and include, among others, Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN) and Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM). We were then presented with the task of writing so called Position Papers. These are papers that each delegation writes in order to prepare themselves for debate. Each committée gets two topics to research and hopefully gain an understanding for, topics such as The Future of Space Security or Media Freedom in the Developing World to name two. After hours of browsing the internet for useful information and the latest updates on our topics, and additional hours of writing, our Position Papers varying in size from 3 to 15 pages were sent to the NHSMUN.
Weeks passed and we collected the money needed through crowd funding, continued researching, booked tickets to New York and then finally packed our bags, ready to go.
At 8:30 on the 4th of February the group of 16 along with Mr Martin Musgrove as well as principal Kristy met at Arlanda Airport, sleepy but excited.
The eight hour flight took its toll but getting off the plane a thirty minute ride from New York City gets anyone excited. From the airport we traveled by minibus to the hotel, located in the nice and historic area of Meatpacking district in the heart of downtown Manhattan. After a quick check-in and change of clothes we went off to Times Square as a start.
The next day began with a fresh walk through Battery Park, we passed the famous bull in the financial district and saw the Ground Zero and Freedom Tower. It had then become time to head up to the New York Hilton Midtown hotel for registration and picking up of various items needed before the sessions. We also attended a meeting where NHSMUN staff went through rules of procedure.
A couple hours later we were back at the Hilton for the Opening Ceremony in the Grand Ballroom – together with over 3000 other students and faculty advisors from all around the globe. Micheal Trainer from Global Citizen (http://www.globalcitizen.org/) held an inspiring speech about his project aiming at defeating extreme poverty, and when it was all over, we were off to our committées for the first session.
The important thing on the agenda this first session was to, through debate, decide on what topic to address first and also starting to talk to other delegates and listen to their ideas. Before leaving for NYC Martin helped us prepare opening speeches and we now had our first chance to speak in front of the whole committée – which many of us did!
At 11 in the evening we were dismissed and tired and headed back to the hotel.
Following days proceeded in a similar manner, each day meant long and challenging – but also very interesting and fun! – committée sessions of around 4 hours each. When it was time for lunch and dinner we were free to go off and explore the streets around Hilton for places to eat. After many hours spent on debate and what is called unmoderated caucus where delegations have the opportunity to build “alliances” we began to merge into larger groups in order to get our working papers together and form the final resolutions.
In the final day of committée, resolution papers were handed to the chair and we were happy to find Tunisia as co-authors or “sponsors” on a multitude of them! It was time for amendments to be brought forth before we could begin to vote on whether resolutions should pass or not. This was also the day of Katinka’s 18th birthday which was celebrated well and truly after committée sessions were over. We all went by the Delegate Dance held at the Hilton and got to witness what a true american teenager party kind of thing looks like – an experience to say the least.
Saturday meant Closing Ceremony. We got up early and went to the United Nations’ temporary building where we were met by a long queue. Fortunately, the sun was out.
The security at the UN is very strict so we had to go through security that felt as if we were actually entering the real UN General Assembly, which unfortunately we couldn’t visit as it is going under renovation at the moment. The Closing Ceremony included roll call and shorter reports on the past days of conference from one person from each committée. The NHSMUN conference organizers were then recognised and thanked and the remainder of the day was spent enjoying the sun while shopping or sight-seeing.
On the following monday when we were all checked out of the hotel and honestly quite tired, we said goodbye and entered the bus to go to the airport.
To conclude, the week spent in New York together and the NHSMUN conference was a fantastic and unique experience and I would encourage students who are offered the chance in the future to go. The high level of debate and quality as well as substantiality of what was created during committée sessions provided a chance to really experience international relations and the ways of the UN – firsthand. Both in theory and in practice. Being able to take part in a simulation like this conference is simply priceless in how educational it is.
Too see more pictures as well as videos visit Kristy’s blog at:
Text: Alice Eriksson
Photos: Kristy Lundström & Alice Eriksson