Journal 1 – 01/08/2016
After my first MUN experience at IIMUN Coimbatore, our CAS teacher Mr. Rolf had informed us that another MUN conference called Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN) was coming up, and it was to be held at Hyderabad International Convention Centre. HMUN is a prestigious conference bringing students from across the world to discuss and debate about critical world issues which we might face as global citizens of the next generation. When we were informed about HMUN, I knew that I shouldn’t miss this golden opportunity, as it is organised only once every year in India, and moreover this year it is held in India’s best convention centre.
So today, I started researching for this grand scale conference. I was the delegate of Belgium in the 130th session of the International Olympic Committee, and our topic was the future of the Olympic Movement, where we had to discuss our views in electing a host city for 2024 Olympics. My good friends Abhishek and Hariharan were also participating in the IOC along with me, so it was great because we could enjoy this experience together. I had to submit my position paper tomorrow, so I hurriedly started my research to give the stance of Belgium on the agenda.
Journal 2 – 11/08/2016
Tomorrow is going to be the first day of HMUN. I am at a loss of words to express my excitement. Almost the entire day I had spent researching on the problems of the Olympic movement, as well as the possible solutions for them. I did not prepare my opening speech yet, but I think I can frame it during my flight tomorrow, as it is just going to be a concise version of my position paper, giving the stances of Belgium on the agenda. I had taken print outs of necessary documents and filed them in a research binder. Now, all that is left is to pack for the 4-day trip to Hyderabad, and I am ready for HMUN!
Journal 3 – 12/08/2016 (HMUN Day 1)
I had woken up early in the morning, and my dad had dropped me off at the airport. I rejoined with my friends waiting outside the terminal with our luggage for Mr. Rolf. In total, there were 30 of us from our school (DP 1 and DP 2) participating in HMUN. Once all of us had reached the airport, we finished the checking in and immigration formalities, and we bought ourselves some snacks for breakfast in the airport. By the time we knew it, we were already boarding the aircraft, ready for take off. In the one hour of journey time we had, I finished penning down my opening speech, and brushed through my research binder.
Once we had reached Hyderabad, and checked out of the airport, we boarded a bus (provided by HMUN) which brought us to our hotel – Formulae 1, and we were graciously given double occupancy for each room. My good friend Abhishek and I were allocated in the same room, so we were elated. The rooms were pretty decent, and moreover we were given free WiFi! We freshened up for a while, and then we had to get ready to board the bus again, to get to the convention centre for our first day of HMUN.
When we reached the place, my eyes widened with wonder and amaze as I stepped out of the bus. The surroundings were so neat and clean that I had almost forgotten that we were in India. We were standing outside the convention centre, and it was amazing to view the architecture and elevation of the building, as well as the surrounding environment. As we were quite late for the explanation of the Rules of Procedure (ROP), we decided to take photos tomorrow, and we finally entered the centre. The convention centre was posh and lavish, and it was truly one of the most spectacular places I have been to. It was then I actually realised the heat of the competition, where everyone seemed to be professional and experienced. My hands were actually trembling of nervousness (and also partially because of the cold atmosphere in there!). The only thing which lightened me up was the food available at the cafe, but it was really overpriced (I pity Mr. Rolf, who had bought all 30 of us lunch there!).
We then attended the ROP event from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, where the various points and motions to open caucuses were explained, so that we know how to effectively participate in our committees. After that, we had a short break, where we saw the committee halls in each level of the centre. Each hall had almost around 200 seats, and there were several of these halls in each level for each committee in the UN. The opening ceremony of HMUN had commenced in the largest hall (which could seat around 2000 people) in the centre from 4 to 5:30 pm, where we enjoyed a few versatile dance performances, followed by speeches given by the chief director and the secretary general.
At 6:00 pm, we had our first committee session until around 8:30 pm. There were about 200 people participating in the IOC, and in 3 delegates were seated in every table. That was perfect for the 3 of us (Abhishek, Hariharan and I ) to sit with each other. The chair first introduced himself, then explained the ROP briefly for the first half an hour. Taking the attendance of all the delegates present in the hall, and receiving our placards took up so much time that we only had about 45 minutes of committee session left. A few delegates were recognized to present their opening speeches, but due to the lack of time and my nervousness, I decided to give my speech tomorrow. At the end of the committee session, many experienced delegates were already forming lobbying around to form potential blocs with the delegates. A few of them approached me as well, and by conversing with them I came to know that these delegates had been to various MUNs abroad as well.
At around 9:00 pm, it was dinner time. The aroma of scrumptious food led me into the dining hall. There, we rejoined with our friends (from our school) from different committees, and we started helping ourselves with heaps of food on our plates. The dinner was absolutely splendid, with various varieties of food for non-vegetarians, as well as for vegetarians, and there were deserts too. In fact, I would say that the dinner was the best part of the day, because I really did not expect the food to be of such divine standards. After dinner, we boarded our bus (after a long wait, of course) to go back to the hotel. I was too tired to think of preparing for tomorrow’s committee sessions as my eyelids drooped down to force my eyes shut.
Journal 4 – 13/08/2016 (HMUN Day 2)
Today I had woken up at about 7:40 am, and had a delicious breakfast provided by the hotel. We had to board the bus by 8:30 am, and as I was a bit late, I hurriedly stuffed a few muffins in my bag and off we went to the convention centre. It was a picture perfect day, and all 30 of us posed for photos in our respective committees that morning, dressed up in our formal attire for the 2nd committee session at 9:30. Even for a few minutes before the committee session started, many of the delegates had formed groups and were lobbying around with each other. Soon, the chair had arrived, and the roll call (attendance list) began.
After several attempts of raising my placard, I was finally recognized by the chair to give my opening speech. As I started off my opening speech, I could hear myself stuttering because of nervousness, but as I went on, I felt I became more consistent and I ended my speech well. But the main highlight of the 2nd session was that motions for moderated caucuses had started, and the delegates were recognized to discuss and debate about certain aspects of the problems of the Olympic Movement, for example, discussing about the politicization of the movement in the recent years. I realised that getting recognised in such a big committee was very VERY difficult, as the chair had to choose random placards, and give chances to those who hadn’t spoken yet.
The 2nd session had ended at around 12:30, and we had lunch soon after that. I don’t think I have to tell you how scrumptious our lunch was, and it just seemed as if the food got better and better every meal. We had a HMUN Leadership Forum and a few other minor events till 4:00 pm, and we had our 3rd committee session from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. We continued with moderated caucuses, but I didn’t get recognised at all throughout the entire session. From then, I made a decision to raise my placard for every moderated caucus, so that I can get a chance to involve in the debate. But in that session during unmoderated caucuses, I went around to different blocs and gave my signatory to Draft Resolution 1.3 which had taken into account most of the problems faced by the Olympics, and the solutions stated in it also seemed to be reasonable. After the session, we had an appetizing dinner, with some sort of mango dessert which was impeccable.
From 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm, all HMUN delegates were invited to an event called HMUN India’s Got Talent. Quite a few delegates showcased their wide range of talents (such as beat boxing, dancing, singing, mimicry, comedy, magic), and we even had a special dance performance from the directors of the event, as well as the chairs of each committee! A few of the performances (which were the dance and the beat boxing) were captivating, while the rest were somewhat entertaining. After the event, we went back to our hotel by bus, and I reflected on how I could learn from my experience during the committee sessions in the morning and evening.
Journal 5 – 14/08/2016 (HMUN Day 3)
Today we had three committee sessions, and I was delighted with my performance today. I was lucky to be recognized twice during the 3 committee sessions. By the time we were in the third committee session, we had already finished discussing about the problems of the Olympics, and moved on to select a host city for 2024 Olympics based on current issues and affairs. There were 4 blocs formed, hence 4 cities proposed – New York, Lisbon, Buenos Aires and Athens. I found Buenos Aires to be the most logical choice among the cities, as they have already hosted the Youth Olympic Games and hence they would already have the facilities to host the Olympics, drastically reducing the cost of the Games. So, I joined their bloc, and so did my friends Abhishek and Hariharan.
Each bloc had to present in front of the hall to convince the delegates why their proposed city is the best for hosting the Olympics, with 5 representatives from the bloc. After the presentation, the other delegates could pose questions to the representatives if recognised by the chair. I raised my placard to ask a question for Lisbon, the only bloc which seemed to threaten our chances of hosting the Olympics in 2024. Luckily, I was the last delegate to get recognized by the chair for the day, and I confidently stood up, and posed my question to them. I was on cloud nine when all the other delegates in the hall had heard my question, and applauded when I had finished asking. It felt like a remarkable feat for me, that too in such a huge event such as HMUN. It was really a confidence booster, and I had a whole-hearted dinner after that session with a huge smile beaming on my face.
At 9:30 pm, we had delegate dance! All of us from different committees rejoiced and started dancing excitedly to the beat drops. It was great to see a few random people all of a sudden joining our group and dancing with us, and we had a great deal of fun. That night, we reached our hotel rooms at around 11:30 pm or 12:00 am. Since that was our last night, we were allowed to stay up late till 2 am and have anyone over to our room till then.
My friend Reshma had invited me and a few other friends over to her room, and there were 9 of us: Anushka, Nivetha, Mariza, Deeksha, Hariharan, Shreepathi, Kavya, Reshma and I. At first, we spent our time watching a movie on TV, then we decided to have a bit more fun and we started playing “Truth or Dare”. Whatever we heard in that room, remained within those four walls, and we enjoyed ourselves staying up till 2:30 or so. Tomorrow is the last day of HMUN, so we didn’t mind sacrificing a few hours of sleep to enjoy our final moments of this wonderful experience.
Journal 6 – 15/08/2016 (HMUN Day 4)
Today was the last day of HMUN… and we checked out of our hotel in the morning and went to the convention centre with our luggage. We had one final committee session left, that was to vote for the host city for 2024 Olympics. New York and Athens were eliminated due to very little support, and the final voting for each delegate was either for Buenos Aires or Lisbon. It was a thrilling and a close contest… and it ended up in Messi (Argentina) vs Ronaldo (Portugal)! And in the end, after the dramatic drum rolls (by banging the table), the chair had announced the final votes: Buenos Aires – 84 and Lisbon – 91. We had lost by 7 votes… and it was hard to accept defeat. But, I was content that being one of the proactive members of the bloc, we gave a close fight to Lisbon.
In the last few minutes, we ended up taking pictures with the chair, and as well as adding our new friends from our committee in social media. We bid our final good byes to most of the delegates in the committee, and off we went to have our last lunch of HMUN. “I am going to miss this food so much” I thought to myself as I savoured my final spoon of ice cream. We had the closing ceremony from 12:30 to 2:00 pm, where a few speeches given by the director and secretary general, and the award winners of each committee was then announced. None of us from our school received any delegation awards, but nevertheless it is the journey of the experience, not the destination that counts. Moreover, we were amateurs compared to professional delegates who had several international experiences of MUN.
HMUN had officially ended. All of us had changed into our normal clothes and boarded the bus to go to the airport. Our flight was at 7 pm but we reached very early, at around 5 pm. My uncle who was living in Hyderabad came to the airport to send me off, before I departed to Coimbatore. I was able to spend about half an hour with my uncle (with Rolf sir’s permission), and later on I cleared through the check in and immigration process on my own. I rejoined the 29 others at KFC in the airport, where Rolf sir had generously bought each of us a meal. After we had suppressed our appetite with the KFC meals, it was time for us to board the flight, and within no time we had reached Coimbatore. My dad picked me up from the airport, and I eventually reached home at around 10:00 pm. What a journey this has been!