By Bailey M. ’16
Photos by Meghan Kenny
After months of preparation, 16 members of the Lancaster Country Day School Class of 2016 began the experience of a lifetime: representing a nation at The Hague International Model United Nations Conference in the Netherlands.
The Model United Nations course has given every member of our group the opportunity to develop our critical thinking skills, broaden our horizons and discover what we’re passionate about. Through historical debates and discussions, we forged our own opinions while discovering how to articulate viewpoints that did not align with our personal beliefs. This atmosphere fosters creativity and motivation, preparing all of us for the challenges we faced representing Ghana at THIMUN.
Our first destination was Zagreb, Croatia, and the apartments that would be our home for three busy days. A frigid and thrilling evening in Jelacic Square dining on chevapchici, or “meat sticks” became the first of many adventures that our close-knit group would share.
The next morning, we were all convened in one of the apartments for breakfast. Everyone contributed pots, pans and mugs from our cabinets; some cooked, while others cleaned. All of us improvised, sharing plates and precariously perching on furniture so that everyone was happy and included.
We had been a tight-knit group throughout the year, but the nature of the trip really made our class feel like a true family.
That afternoon, we drove through the mountains to Rijeka, where we walked cobblestone streets to the 13th-century Trsat Fortress, and took in a city glowing with the variegated decorations of the Winter Carnival.
That night we saw the Winter Carnival Pageant, where we gazed in confusion as we beheld a parade of dancers in ramshackle yak costumes receiving raucous cheers from the crowd. Though perplexing, the celebration made us reflect on how Color Wars might well look equally baffling to outsiders.
We woke to our last frigid morning in Zagreb and set out early to see as much as possible and crisscrossed the sections of the city, only stopping to warm our tired limbs with cappuccinos. The Museum of Broken Relationships made an ironically ideal meeting place as smaller groups greeted each other with stories of the day.
As our plane touched down in the Netherlands, we were giddy (though perhaps that was jet lag). We finally clamored out into the pouring rain to see the Carlton Beach hotel in Scheveningen, the temporary home of Country Day MUN students of years past. That evening, our group made the trip to center city for the traditional pre-THIMUN dim sum dinner. At one point, you couldn’t tell if the tears in someone’s eyes were due to uncontrollable laughter or the incredibly spicy food. Our band of committed characters was eager and prepared to take on THIMUN.
The next morning, we walked past the waving Ghanaian flag on our way into the world forum for the first time. Armed with prewritten resolutions and all of the self-confidence we could muster, we parted ways and made for our individual committees.
The first day included lobbying, a constant blur of activity as we sought out delegates who shared our topic and viewpoint. We compared and combined resolutions, explaining our country’s stance to other students from around the globe. Our months of studying specialized topics within our committees had paid off; everyone in our MUN class was able to proudly share something they accomplished on that first day.
Throughout the week, intense committee sessions saw us discuss the resolutions which came from the first day’s lobbying. As delegates of Ghana, we had the hard time smaller nations often do in getting the attention of committee chairmen, but we persevered. Many of these efforts paid off as some of our classmates made passionate speeches, delivered points of information, and even passed resolutions they had written.
Our group made careful decisions, casting personal opinions aside in order to best represent the views of our nation. We used the critical thinking skills we had developed throughout the year, and set individual goals and challenges for ourselves. Furthermore, interacting with fellow MUN students from around the world gave us the chance to learn from each other’s prior experience and make friends.
Learning how to self-promote in such a diverse environment was a truly valuable experience, and will help us in college and throughout our lives. Though our days were packed with hours of lobbying and debate during that week, we used the evenings to reconnect and share our experiences from the conference in order to learn from each other.
On Wednesday, our committee sessions let out early and we headed to Amsterdam, exploring breathtaking art at the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum before walking the city and getting a sense of its open-minded culture. We did our best to avoid the infamous virus named the “Hague Plague,” or as we affectionately dubbed it, “Den Haagen Plaagen,” and took care of those who were not as lucky.
Though we took on challenges in our committees as individuals and as delegates of the Republic of Ghana, the 2016 MUN class remained a microcosm of our LCDS community: compassionate, spirited, and open-minded.
On the behalf of this year’s MUN class, I want to give my sincere thanks to Mrs. Woodbridge, Mr. Umble, Ms. Kenny, and all others who made our trip possible. I would also like to express our gratitude to Mr. Schindler, whose guidance and support has allowed us to truly grow. Through this course, each student learned lessons that will serve us the rest of our lives, independence, critical thinking skills and the will to pursue what we truly care about.