MUN 2017: Taking The Hague and Beyond

By Madison B. ’17
Photos by Mrs. Woodbridge

Eighteen students. Four months. Dozens of sleepless nights. Countless pages of research. All for one international conference: The Hague International Model United Nations.

The globetrotting journey of the Model United Nations class began long before the conference — approximately a year before, in fact, when we were given the chance to audition for a spot in the highly competitive class. From the beginning, we knew what awaited us: a once-in-a-lifetime trip to combine our collective diplomatic expertise with that of thousands of international students on the world stage. But in the hours before our departure, the trip began to take on a new life as not merely a conference, but a transformative experience for everyone involved.

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The time away was only 10 days, but it felt like an entire semester abroad — and not just because of jet lag. Before the conference proper, we had time to explore our new surroundings, time which we used to the fullest.

Our first day was spent in the Hague, our base of operations. We walked along the shore of the North Sea, marveling at how the frigid waters could serve as a local hotspot in the summer. For dinner we sampled Cantonese food, including fried chicken feet (which I would not recommend due to overwhelming bitterness and an awful aftertaste).

The next day, MUN 2017 took Amsterdam, where we saw art by Van Gogh and the Dutch masters, ate delicious stroopwafel (which, for the uninitiated, is a sort of sandwich made of two thin waffles and caramel spread), and took a dinner cruise through Amsterdam’s labyrinth of canals.

However, the highlight of Amsterdam for many of the MUN students was the Anne Frank house, where we took a somber tour through the secret annex where Anne Frank and seven other Dutch Jews hid from the Nazis.

For our last free day, we traveled to Bruges, Belgium, where we were able to purchase some legendary Belgian chocolate and relax before the conference began.

Now well-rested and adjusted to the new atmosphere, the students were plunged right into lobbying on the first day of the conference. Shaking off our days of vacation, we got right to work drafting resolutions, writing speeches, and gathering support for our platforms, just like we’d learned in class.

Many of us were head or co-submitters on resolutions. When debate started on the second day, we went toe-to-toe with other students to defend our positions and oppose measures that our delegations didn’t agree with.

Any of us could tell you how simultaneously terrifying and thrilling it was to approach the microphone, notes in hand, ready to fight for our resolution. To even pose a simple question required extensive planning, to make sure that the point of information would have the desired effect.

It was the ultimate exercise of “think before you speak,” made even more pressing by the fact that hundreds of other intelligent students were listening intently to you. Our public speaking skills quickly improved, as well as our ability to communicate swiftly and effectively with others.

And at the end, many of us were rewarded with our resolutions passing. If not, we learned what to do differently next time.

Overall, the trip was not only fun, but an extremely valuable learning experience. But the most important thing, in my opinion, were the strong bonds that the class formed with one another as we explored and argued together.

LCDS Global Programs include a robust, curricular, experiential learning travel program and a diverse international student community. For more information on our travel opportunities or learning about the rewards of hosting an international student, please contact  Heather Woodbridge, Director of Global Programs