An update from Nicola, senior international studies and human rights major:

After 29 long hours of travel, we have officially arrived in Taipei, Taiwan. Despite the long flights, the service was excellent, and I slept most of the journey. The flight attendants brought around Ramen at one point, and I had my first, of what I’m sure will become quite normal, mandatory chopsticks experience. I am so glad that my mom taught me to use chopsticks when I was younger!

Unlike traveling to some places, it was quite evident that we were in China immediately upon arriving in the airport. There were signs posted marking various things punishable by death, the writings were in Mandarin, and we were the ones who stood out. People were especially excited to see Dana’s and Blaine’s blond hair.

One scary moment occurred going through security. Dana has a large Amnesty bumper sticker on her laptop that says “I support Human Rights,” and she had to take her laptop out of its case for the security checkpoint. China didn’t seem like the place to promote one’s support of Human Rights, and the security guards definitely commented on the laptop as they checked it.

After arriving in Hong Kong, we took a short flight to Taipei and then had a 30-minute ride to our hotel.

I could not be more excited about the coming week! I’m looking forward to seeing people I have not seen since last year’s World Model UN or at our last U.S. circuit conference, experiencing the culture and food, team bonding, making new friends, an intense week of debate and negotiation among the diverse delegates from around the world, and getting to improve personal skills like public speaking.

I have high expectations that I’m certain will be fulfilled. There are not too many international forums where more than 2,000 future leaders from around the world come together to discuss international issues, policy and socialize. Can you imagine if Martin Luther King Jr., Ban Ki Moon, Winston Churchill and Madeleine Albright had all came together in their early 20s, I imagine that the discussion would be similar to that which occurs at the World Model UN Conference.

I intend to take advantage of this opportunity by keeping an open mind to different perspectives and through engaging in intelligent conversations with my peers from around the world.