By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor
From March 13 to 17, the Washington College Model United Nations (MUN) team participated in the Harvard WorldMUN 2017 conference in Montreal, Canada.
The conference, now in its 26th year, is held annually in cities across the world. They are selected after a scrutinizing process. In recent years, the conference has been held in Brussels, Belgium, Seoul, South Korea, and Rome, Italy.
The conference began with around 300 delegates and has since grown to include more than 2,000 from 115 nations worldwide.This year’s slogan, “Where Worlds Meet and Cultures Unite,” is especially pertinent.
MUN is an organization in which students simulate real United Nations procedures in order to create solutions to the world’s problems and to foster diplomacy between nations and cultures.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, said, “These diverse gatherings bring together an incredible group of young leaders dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and positive global change.”
The conference contains 20 committees which delegates attend each day of the conference for two three-hour periods. In these committees, delegates debate on a topic that is assigned to the group, form alliances with other countries and write working papers to find solutions to the issue, and eventually publish draft resolutions from these papers that are then voted on by the committee.
The WACMUN delegation represented the Philippines in this year’s conference, and did extensive research on the Philippines’ stance on the issues dicussed in committee prior to arriving in Montreal.
In addition to outside research for individual committees, the team met each Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. for a committee simulation, and each Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. for class.
“World MUN is largely a cultural experience, and in addition to the simulation practice as well as in-class teachings, the exposure to all different types of cultures isn’t something that can be replicated easily. We try to push students to represent countries with viewpoints that are usually very different from their own, for example having to represent the Government of Saudi Arabia on Women’s Rights, this would typically be a difficult view for a liberal student to represent, but the point is to instill respect for the views of other cultures and contribute to the exposure that our delegates will receive at the conference,” said Josh Peterson, the Vice President of the International Studies Council.
In the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL), Tyanna Baker and Josh Peterson, the delegates representing WC, won a Diplomacy Award for the second year in a row.
“Winning the Diplomacy Award twice has been a humbling experience both years. The opportunities to work with and collaborate with people from all over the world is an amazing experience in its own right. I think that the biggest thing that set Tyanna and I apart was our willingness to include the ideas of all those from around us, and come to the best solution possible,” Peterson said.
In the evenings after committee sessions, the WorldMUN conference hosts social events at different venues throughout the city. Each night has a special theme for delegates to dress accordingly.
The two most popular nights that happen each year are Global Village and Cabaret.
Global Village celebrates each country’s heritage, and delegates are encouraged to dress in clothing that represents their host country. Booths are set up around the room with different food and drink to represent the different host countries’ cultures, and delegates are encouraged to visit each table.
Cabaret is also a celebration of cultural heritage that includes a “global talent show” where delegations perform a dance routine that is native to their homeland.
Everyone agreed that the trip was a life-changing experience.
Peterson said, “I believe that the best way to learn is by doing, and every time I am afforded the opportunity to interact within different cultures in a different environment I prefer to take it. For me it is about remembering that no matter where in the world a person comes from that we are all cut from the same cloth, and World MUN has been probably the biggest contributor to how I have developed my world view since my time at WC.”