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The challenge of walking in an another country’s shoes @ WorldMUN 2012, Vancouver (Part 1)

April 15, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

WorldMUN Report, Vancouver 2012

 

From the moment  I departed from the Hong Kong International airport on March 10th for Vancouver till the very last second I spent in Canada, my WorldMUN journey has been one to remember. The huge buildup for the selection of the HKU delegation, which started about 6 months before the main event, was finally realized and it was all and more than what I expected. Having attended only local MUN’s previously, attending an MUN organized at an international platform had always been my dream. Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to participate in one of the largest and the most diverse Model United Nation there is.

It all started in October, when I proposed the idea to HKU’s Academic Liaison Section that they should consider sending a team to this academic years conference. I found it surprising that in 2010-11, when WorldMUN was held in Singapore, our university did not send a team to participate in this event although it was very convenient. I myself was in US for an exchange program and therefore it was extremely difficult for me to communicate with the university officials. However while on exchange, I made up my mind that next year HKU should definitely participate as it is one of few platforms which gathers delegates from all around world including from some of the best universities out there. So after detailed talks and proposals which were exchanged with ALS, I finally got the program approved and the administration decided to send a team composing of 8 delegates and 1 faculty advisor. An application was dispatched through the HKU Portal system and surprisingly we received around 100 applications, indicating that there is a great amount of interest in the HKU population to attend MUN’s. Most of them were quite qualified, having participated in local debating and MUN contests. After much deliberation a team of 8 was selected, which was diverse in every manner. Our team consisted of 5 different nationalities, 4 different faculties, 6 different departments, equal female to male ratios and an experience of 14 prior MUN’s amongst us.

The selected team was extremely competent, although most of us had never participated on an international level. Since I had initiated the process, I was appointed the Head delegate of our team. This doubled my workload for sure, but was an experience on its own. After the official selection of the team in December, we started to have rigorous weekly meetings to work towards the WorldMUN to be held in March. These meetings included dividing ourselves into different committees, carrying out research, writing our position papers, checking each others’ position papers, recruiting our Faculty advisor, visa and travelling arrangement’s, hotels and so much more. In February it was confirmed by the WorldMUN team that HKU would be representing The Republic of Malawi during the conference, and the topics of each committee were revealed. It was a rather daunting task for our team to prepare, given that more than half of the topics were not relevant to the small and poor country that we were representing.  On the other hand it was also an exciting prospect for us and we took it as a challenge to prove our country’s position. After all the hard work and the various ups and downs during the pre-departure preparation, we finally departed early morning on the 10th of March for the HK airport.

 

Pre Departure – Me (the only guy in the picture) and the female participants

 

After a long flight (most of which I slept through), we arrived in Canada at noon on the same date. We were now almost 13 hours behind HK time and I exited the Vancouver airport after a delightful chat with the immigration officer regarding the WorldMUN SPECPOL committee. I gathered my luggage, covered myself with the thickest coat, scarf, cap and gloves that I had, and set on the journey to reach our accommodation for the stay (the Marriott in downtown).

 

Arrival in Canada

 

After tackling a rather difficult train ticketing system (compared to the convenient octopus system that we use in Hong Kong) we departed towards our hotel. The view of the city from the train was breathtaking and it seemed like the whole train ride was over in no time since I was busy snapping pictures of the surroundings. The rest of day 1 was mostly spent finding out places for having dinner, doing some sight=seeing near the hotel and catching up with the time zone difference. I attended nightZero, which was like a mixer for the delegates. It started pretty late and ended even later, around 4am in the morning, but I came back as I had to get up early for the proceedings next morning. I also got time to watch some Canadian local channels and developed a slight interest in ice hockey as it was always running on TV.

The train ride

Day 2 was basically orientation, some workshops and a lot of paperwork to be completed by me as the head delegate. Waking up at 8 in the morning was really tough and after tackling 4 hours of confusing queues, resolving the absence of various documents in the HKU team welcome packet and distributing the material to all my team members, I still had 2 hour’s worth of Head delegate – Advisor meetings to look forward to. While all other people went to workshops and socialized with delegates form other countries, I went to the advisor meeting where I met Professor Tony Carty, our faculty advisor from the faculty of Law, and together we attended a comprehensive welcome session. After that it was lunchtime and I headed towards a small Lebanese restaurant followed by some much needed and deserved rest in my room.

Delegates and Faculty Advisor, Professor Tony Carty

As a city that recently hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Vancouver is no stranger to welcoming visitors from around the world into their beautiful city. But I’m willing to bet that never before has the city seen such engaged, idealistic, and well-dressed young men and women descend upon it as during the 21st annual World Model United Nations Vancouver 2012 Conference. The evening of the second day started off with the grand opening ceremony held at the historical Orpheum Theatre built in 1927. The excitement in the building was profound as almost 2000 delegates from over 65 countries descended into the venue.  Speeches from Maher Nasser (the current Director of the Outreach Division in the United Nations Department of Public Information), Jeremy Kinsman (retired Canadian diplomat who’s roles included Canada’s Ambassador in Moscow in 1992 and the Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels from 2002-2006), and Mr. Chandrashekaran (Associate Dean, Professional Graduate Programs in the UBC Sauder School of Business) were enlightening. Some highlights included a promise from Mr. Nasser, on behalf of the United Nations, to increase their commitment to youth and Model United Nations in particular, including the impending appointment of an UN Special Advisor on Youth, and Mr. Kinsman’s excellent advice to delegates to listen more, talk less, and not to be too conservative in their ideas.

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony attendees were also treated to a humorous act from Barbara Adler, an award-winning Canadian slam poet, as well as performances from a native dance group who welcomed the audience with songs and dances for peace and victory, and a Canadian Hip Hop group. The night concluded with Global Village, held in the science world. This event turned out to be very different from the MUN’s I had attended in the past as rather than depicting their cultures; students were more interested in promoting the cocktails of their respective countries. All in all it was a big frat party, which wasn’t such a bad thing after all, as everyone seemed to enjoy it. Global Village particularly provided the opportunity to meet people before committee session started. Delegates from the European Business School in Oestrich enjoyed the spirit of all the delegates. Swiss delegates from the University of St Gallen felt right at home in the mountains. Ladies from the UAE University enjoyed the diversity of committees and delegations.

Social Event – Global Village

 

Delegate Mahad Naseer @ Global Village

So the first two days of the conference had ended, and we were enjoying out hearts out!

Keep reading on to my next two posts for days 4-6!

 

Cheers!

Hamza Farrukh

Engineering-Year 3



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