Today was finally it. The first day of the 2009 Harvard WorldMun Conference. Everyone in our group got up early, and donning our business attire, we joined the 2,500 other students from all over the world to make it to our committee rooms by 8 a.m. for roll call.
On the tram ride over to the conference hall, I remember seeing WorldMun Conference delegates by the hundreds. All you had to do was look at them – the bright orange conference bags, the nametags, the look on their faces that they might have stayed too long at last night’s social event (despite the fact that it was soo worth it). The look said it all – I am a Model United Nations Delegate.
Under any normal circumstances, people tell you their names first, then where they are from, then where they go to school. But this was WorldMun, and the icebreaking question was, “What country are you representing?”
I am not sure what my fellow delegates were expecting as a response, but I quickly came to the conclusion that: the Vatican, the Holy See, the Papal States and/or Heaven, totally came out of left field. Once things began to click, this would then be followed by, “Southern METHODIST University … are you even Catholic?” By this point, I would answer, “Yes and yes,” at which point the people would just smile and accept this as a strange coincidence.
Representing the Vatican in committee and beyond
Edwin and I were the two SMU delegates in the World Trade Organization at the conference. Once committee began, the speaker’s list was up, and we somehow managed to make it up there right off the bat and to put in the Papal point of view on the issues at hand. The first being, “Barriers to Free Trade” and the second being, “Regional Trade Agreements and Globalization.”
Things went smoothly in committee that day, and we would spend most of the day discussing which topic would be discussed, which, after a long-fought argument, finally ended up being “Barriers to Free Trade.”
Representing the Vatican was a challenge – time in committee was almost too easy, as the Holy See had chosen the role of an “Observer state” and forsaken its right to vote, in a wish to be non-political. However, outside of the committee room it was an almost constant challenge.
I say this because I would learn that the Vatican is very misunderstood, and I would even go as far to say that in general, most people are very ignorant about what Catholics and Catholicism are all about. This was made even more difficult by the Pope’s recent visit to Angola and the very unpopular message that he delivered there.
So even though I never would have imagined it, the first day of committee would set the precedent for the conference of being more about my standing up for my Church outside of committee than defending its positions in committee.
Party at the Global Village
However, the day didn’t end with just a committee session. The Harvard kids putting on the conference are pretty bright, and they balanced the work with the play, and each night there would be a social event to get to hang out with people from the conference, and also get to experience a little Netherlands nightlife.
As today was the first real day of the conference, they wanted to start off with a strong social event that would really serve as an icebreaker for all 2,500 students attending the conference. Tonight’s event was called Global Village, and it was an opportunity for everyone to represent their countries.
Many delegations had booths or tables at which you could try a typical food or beverage of that country, and just get to meet some people from all over. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, particularly because the level of excitement was just off the charts. The Mexicans would start singing … only to have the Panamanians sing louder. Then the Greeks would try to sing louder, but then the Panamanians would show them what was what.
Meanwhile, the Indians were painting henna all over people, the Aussies were eating all of their own food, and then the Koreans stared offering canned cockroaches … which, smell and taste just as pleasant as it sounds.
All in all, it was just three stories of food, music, and an international good time.