Dangerfield Diplomacy: MUN Gets Some Respect for Comoros in The Hague

By Ethan J. ’13
Photos by Ms. Simonds

For more on the MUN trip, visit the blog.

Each year for the past three decades, Lancaster Country Day School has had the privilege of traveling to The Hague, Netherlands, to represent our school in The Hague International Model United Nations Conference (THIMUN). This conference of 3,500 high school students from across the world is regarded as the most competitive, intense and eminent Model United Nations assembly. From Jan. 21–Feb. 2, Sam Schindler’s MUN class carried on this tradition, as 16 LCDS seniors traveled to The Hague to represent the Union of the Comoros in this year’s installment of THIMUN.

 

When many hear “Comoros,” they often think they misheard “Cameroon,” or just give a subtle nod followed by an unenthusiastic, “Oh, that’s interesting,” hoping that no one will ask if they’ve ever heard of Comoros, or could find it on a map. Representing Comoros, a small island nation between the east coast of Africa and Madagascar, was challenging at times, but in the end very rewarding. The experiences our class had exploring Europe and attending THIMUN were unforgettable, and something that every student at Country Day should aspire to be a part of.

 

Thursday, Jan. 24-Friday, Jan. 25     

Brussels, Belgium — The Country Day contingent arrived in Brussels, along with a storm leaving four inches of snow, slush, and ice on the ground. Our following three days would be spent exploring cold and snowy Belgium with the help of our trusty guide, Claude. Claude, through his interesting analogies and funny lapses in translation, was able to explain Belgium’s history while leading us on tours of three Belgian cities, including the capital, Brussels. He explained where Belgium fits on the global political stage, and while describing the left-leaning politics of the Belgian electorate and government, just happened to lead us past a house decorated with Barack Obama paraphernalia. Later, Claude led us to Manneken Pis, the odd statue of a boy peeing in the heart of Brussels. It was then that our class was formally introduced to the Belgian Waffle. After making this acquaintance, we spent the rest of our time in Brussels eating countless waffles, as 1 gaufre belge stands were on almost every corner.

Saturday, Jan. 26    

Bruges and Ghent, Belgium — Our class was once again treated to Claude’s enthusiasm as we boarded a bus for the Flemish cities of Bruges and Ghent. Before hitting the road, our class made a stop at the Atomium, one of the main attractions of the 1958 World’s Fair, a gigantic 355-foot stainless steel model of an iron crystal. Later that night, some of us ate dinner in the restaurant situated in the top sphere.

When we later arrived in Ghent, the already frigid weather got even colder as the wind picked up and a snow storm began. We toured St. Bravo’s Cathedral, home of the famous Ghent Altarpiece, a massive, 12-paneled painting stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Following our visit to Ghent, we boarded the bus for Bruges, where the main attraction is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a medieval church home to a venerated vial containing a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, Jan. 27    

The Hague, Netherlands — After an early rise, a 2-hour bus ride took us to Den Haag, the site of our Model United Nations conference.  Our hotel was in the Scheveningen district of The Hague (try saying that 10 times fast). The Hague turned out to be a very energetic and youthful city, filled with thousands of 16-18-year-olds from all over the world. During our first day in The Hague, Mr. Schindler led us around the city, trying to give us a feel for one of the most international cities in the world. We wandered the streets and eventually made our way to the impressive Panorama Mesdag and Museum. Following this visit, we ventured to Chinatown to carry on the LCDS Model United Nations tradition of eating Chinese food the night before the conference. Following dinner, we got a final pep talk from Mr. Schindler and Ms. Simonds, as the first day of the conference began the next morning.

Monday, Jan. 28-Friday, Feb. 1

45th Annual The Hague International Model United Nations — The next five days were filled with excitement, energy, and at times, utter chaos. Lobbying ate up our entire first day, and given that almost our entire delegation served on separate committees, everyone’s social skills were put to the test. Luckily, allies were quickly made, and as a result all Comoros delegates became co-submitters of at least one resolution, an impressive accomplishment. That afternoon, a few lucky members of our delegation got tickets to attend the opening ceremonies of the conference. This included seeing our ambassador, Alyx K. participate in the famous THIMUN flag parade.

Day Two of the conference was mainly devoted to giving and listening to hundreds and hundreds of opening speeches. Many Country Day delegates had the opportunity to address their respective committees and make an opening speech. No speech was as stressful as Alyx’s, as she gave her’s before a General Assembly audience of more than 1,000 people.

We spent all of the next three days on formal debate on the resolutions. Because our nation, Comoros, wasn’t exactly the highest-profile country around, many delegates found it hard to be recognized by their chairs.  Nonetheless, all delegates were able to make speeches, ask points of information, and submit amendments. Overall, our experiences at THIMUN were very positive, though we would have wished for more opportunities to speak and voice our opinions. Finally, on Friday night, our class had the opportunity to meet with the longest-tenured justice of The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), Patrick Robinson. Justice Robinson was able to answer all of our questions about the tribunal and tell us about his experiences on the bench since the tribunal’s creation in 1996, which included personally overseeing the trial and sentencing of war criminal and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević,

This year’s Model United Nation’s trip was an incredible experience. On behalf of our whole class, I would like to thank Mr. Schindler and Ms. Simonds for their excellent chaperoning, as well as encourage all future Country Day Seniors to pursue this opportunity when the time comes.