Diplomacy, yelling and some serious role playing
3/23/2005 1:34:23 PM
Randolph-Macon Woman's College students are attending the 2005 National Model United Nations Conference (www.nmun.org) in New York City, March 21 - 26.
Wednesday, 23 March 2005
This morning, our delegation climbed groggily out of bed to dress and meet with the president of the Democratic Socialists of America. Faces devoid of makeup and pretense in the early morning, we were blessed with the gift of donuts and orange juice from Dr. Abbassi who seems to understand that nothing cheers grumpy young women more than massive quantities of chocolate, with a helping of extra sugar. The representative arrived and spoke to us about the overall structure and substance of Socialist International, providing us with the viewpoint of the DSA, which is a smaller member party in the organization. He didn’t necessarily fit our preconceived image of him: that of an aging, passionate revolutionist that worked out of a small cramped office, littered with cigarette butts and books–a stereotype, to be sure; but, despite the disappointing lack of that bohemian glamour, the meeting was a true success. Through his comments and perspective, we were better able to understand the manner in which our organization works and the driving principles behind which it acts.
Later that afternoon, after grabbing some falafel from the vendor across the street, my partner and I went to our first committee meeting of the day. While the night before we had only succeeded in setting the agenda and preliminary alliances, at this meeting we began formatting working papers, which proposed solutions for the issue of safeguarding the rights of refugees and IDPs. It was interesting to see the different operating styles of the various delegations. Whether we were dealing with a delegation from Germany who is representing Guatemala, or the American University in Cairo who is representing Spain, it has been clear that while most are well-prepared for the conference, differences remain in their approach. When we are ready to suspend the formal meeting for caucusing, which allows the delegates to meet informally to work on their various papers, the most eager delegates stand on chairs and shout for attention, demanding that their assorted allies join them, “IN THE HALL!” or “IN THE CORNER, IN THE CORNER!” loud calls for a meeting place add to the high stress atmosphere that the very serious and important topics foster but also increase the annoyance factor when the delegations who are getting graded on their performance at the conference yell loudly and repeatedly, often talking for long minutes but actually saying very little. I can hardly imagine a representative from the UN behaving in such a manner, but then again, a representative from the UN would most likely also not be wearing some of the more daring “business” attire found on a few delegates.
One thing that is always interesting to me, on my third year at this conference, is the length to which some delegations take their role-playing. When a member of another delegation in my committee hands me their business card, complete with the name and emblem of the country or NGO they’re representing and their name and room number, and urges me
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