By: A. Melcon
This January, myself and numerous other Lower 6 students had the honor of participating in THIMUN, a prestigious MUN conference held annually in the Hague. We departed from Sao Paulo on Friday the 20th of January, and returned on the 28th. Overall, the experience was fascinating as not only did we get the opportunity to participate in an international conference in which we debated eminent topics in front of much larger audience than usual, but also met new friends, got to know a new city, and visited important global centers such as the International Criminal Court.
To start off our trip, we visited Amsterdam on Sunday, our first full day at the Hague. It was only one hour away from our hotel, making the trip easy and accessible. Upon our arrival, Mr. Sousa and Ms. Costa, the two trip organizers, took us to see various impressive sites and eventually left us to have some free time in an area with numerous museums, which we then visited and had lunch at. We later met up and headed to the Anne Frank Museum.
The Anne Frank Museum was easily the most interactive and touching museum I have ever visited. Throughout our visit, you not only learnt more of holocaust victims’ stories and the extreme damage that the war caused, but also the personal story of Anne Frank. Having read the book multiple times, it was extremely engaging and rewarding to see the family’s hiding place- even viewing small details such as pencil marks on the walls to mark Anne and Margot’s height- which made the moment even more personal and vulnerable. Being exposed to such a crucial part of history left us all impacted, marking the end of the first day.
THIMUN then started early on Monday, located at the World Forum. St Pauls delegates were representing Israel and Monaco, two culturally rich countries we were intrigued by researching. I was placed as Israel in the GA2 committee, where the topics discussed included the persecution of minorities, forced labor, and the reparation of cultural artefacts to their home countries. The first few hours of the conference were slightly nerve racking, as apart from one other St Pauls delegate in my committee, I was surrounded only by about 200 teenage strangers- a far larger audience than I was used to. However, over the course of long lobbying hours and building constructive resolutions together, I slowly got to know more familiar faces, and came out of my first day proud to have been able to overcome any initial shyness and been able to participate in perfecting solutions to complicated problems. Later that evening, many of us went ice skating in a rink in front of our hotel, demonstrating that the trip would not only introduce us to new international friendships, but also strengthen our school ones.
On the second day, I came into the conference room more confident than before, already feeling more at ease with a few faces I recognized in the crowd. We finished lobbying by lunch and moved into debate time for the rest of the evening. At the start, the debate was very intimidating and nerve-racking, and I faced more of a struggle to speak up for my delegation. However, by the start of the next day, I had already gotten a lot more confident with contributing to the debate by making insightful POIs.
By the time that the last day of the conference arrived, I felt that not only myself, but all other St Pauls delegates, had loved the experience and grown much more comfortable within an initially intimidating setting. At the closing ceremony, despite us all being slightly relieved that the occasionally tiring debate had come to a close, we were very saddened by how our short time at the World Forum, where we had been privileged enough to not only listen to but contribute to debates of eminent relevant topics, was coming to a close. The ceremony was remarkable, showcasing powerful speeches of the secretariat, an incredible band and a flag demonstration by the country ambassadors.
Overall, I would fully recommend this experience to other pupils in younger year groups. Meeting people from around the world- ranging from the US, Spain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Greece, Egypt and so much more- I cannot begin to explain how much this conference has opened my eyes to the importance of global citizenship and the eminence of shattering discriminatory misconceptions. After hearing distinct opinions on relevant topics, I have been able to become a more global, socially aware citizen more capable of understanding different perspectives and be compassionate within conflicting positions.
The last day was one of the most memorable for me, as we had the whole day to experience the visits our teachers had organized for us. We started the visit at the Hague Hotel School, where we visited the facilities, learnt how the university worked, and the many infinite opportunities that studying hospitality can open in the future. We later visited the Peace Palace and ended the evening with a visit to the immaculate International criminal Court. The court was extremely impressive, as we were given a long explanation, and granted answers to our many questions and curiosities, on how such an important intergovernmental organization worked, and the extensive limitations of it. Moreover, the explanation being led by a defense attorney, whose responsibility was to help the defense lawyers the defendant may choose on the proceeding and legislature of the international court, a slightly controversial career which required a great deal of open mindedness.
In conclusion, both me and all other St Pauls students who went on this trip loved the experience and wish that many other students who are interested in politics join MUN and eventually get the opportunity to partake not only in such a Worldly and important conference, but also get to visit the important historic hotspots located in the Netherlands. I would also like to express my thanks on behalf of all St Pauls THIMUN delegates to Mr. Sousa and Ms. Costa, who accompanied us throughout the whole trip and the long preparation, as well the University team and other teachers who helped the trip organization behind the scenes.