Model UN 2010

Ten students in SMU’s Model United Nations program participated in the World Model U.N. 2009 Conference in March in The Hague, Netherlands. The SMU delegation was assigned to represent the Vatican at the conference, where students from more than 40 countries debated and discussed world issues facing the U.N. system.

What SMU MUN is about

An update from Danna, a first-year psychology and business major:

ModelUN3.jpg As I looked around the auditorium before the beginning of closing ceremonies, I couldn’t believe it had been a week since I sat a few rows away anxiously awaiting the opening of the conference.

Around me, students from Africa, America, Europe and Asia filed into their seats, each ready to depart the beautiful city of Taiwan and take along with them the unique and rich memories of the past week. As the lights dimmed down and the speaker walked onto the stage, I caught myself reflecting on the past week and the memories I couldn’t wait to share back home …

From the exotic food and entertaining night market, to the debate in committee and one-of-a-kind social events, each and every moment of this trip has been one that has given me a new perspective on ordinary experiences. Whether it was Adam’s humor or Adriana and Nicola’s nurturing, the time spent with the team in the beautiful city of Taipei was valuable beyond my expectations.

Sharing these new experiences with my friends and teammates from home made being a part of such a unique activity as rewarding as ever. Between sitting together over meals and walking down the streets of Taipei, bonding with the team miles away from home made me realize how much being a part of MUN was about more than just growing as a delegate, but also growing as a person, a teammate and a friend.

From all the opportunities I have had to work with a team of bright and motivated students, this trip has made me more confident in saying that none has been as gratifying and educational as MUN. Having the honor of participating in World not only introduced me to a new country, a new culture, and many new people, but it also introduced me to a different side of the students I meet and prepare with each week.

There’s something special about traveling abroad and trying new things. But when you do it with a group of highly dedicated students, have a great time with friends, devote your energy to having presence in debate, and meet new people, it’s ten times more special. That’s what this past week at World MUN has been about. That’s what SMUMUN is about.

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Day 3: Debate, war, death and betrayal

An update from Adriana, a sophomore international studies major and President’s Scholar:

At WorldMUN, the third day of conference is traditionally the most challenging and the most intense. Not only have the majority of the substantive issues been presented before the committee, but also there are two committee sessions that day, guaranteeing six hours of intensive debate and great progression in committee.

ModelUN21.jpg Furthermore, it is that evening that awards are decided, so your performance during the sessions leaves the final impression, which may very well determine the award recipients. (In photo: Award winners Nicola and Adriana.)

For me, Wednesday, March 17, 2010, was the day that I had been preparing for, for months. When the lists of Specialized Committees was posted on the WorldMUN website, I immediately knew which committee I wanted. El Consejo del Reino is not only the first foreign language committee at WorldMUN, but also a historical crisis committee. While the majority of the committees at WorldMUN are General Assembly committees, this specialized committee embodied the last government under Franco, his high advisory council of 1969.

In December 2009, I submitted my application to the WorldMUN secretariat and El Consejo del Reino. This application process was rigorous, including questions that intricately dealt with the historical relevance of the committee and its broad topic areas.

I was chosen to represent Gregorio Lopez-Bravo, the minister of external affairs in the Francoist regime of 1969. Not only was I honored to have been chosen as a delegate in this committee, but I was also given a character who had veto power in all decisions regarding Spanish foreign relations. Wow! This was an essential position in a small, specialized committee – I could not believe it! I was incredibly excited, and I could not wait to start preparing. I knew that this was going to be an unforgettable experience in and out of committee.

On Wednesday, March 17, I awoke early, mentally ready to exert my every energy and leave nothing behind. Committee had been steadily progressing throughout the week, and at the beginning of Thursday, we were facing grave issues domestically and internationally.

Within Spain, the ETA, a growing Basque separatist and nationalist organization, was presenting an ever increasing danger, and terrorist attacks were imminent. Additionally, due to Juan Carlos’ immoral behavior, he had renounced his right to the throne, which had been granted to him earlier that year. Therefore, el Consejo del Reino had to make a decision regarding the succession. This was a difficult task, given the lack of eligible men.

Internationally, the dilemma with the British over Gibraltar had yet to be settled, the Moroccans were threateningly advancing toward the border with the Spanish Sahara, and the kidnapped German honorary consul was also yet to be found. Finally, Spain’s application to the Economic European Community had not been responded to, and the country’s standing in the international scene was precarious and greatly depended on the response to and resolution of the above-mentioned issues.

Not only was this looking to be a substantively profound and challenging day, but in order to win an award, I was going to have to be a key player in every movement and decision. As I got ready for the day, I reminded myself that this was the case, but to, most importantly, enjoy the experience. This I repeated to the rest of the team as we gathered a few hours later in the lobby to head over to Taiwanese International Conference Center.

In committee, the debate started almost immediately. There was no time to waste – the country was being attacked from all fronts, and Franco was not pleased. Something needed to be done. First, to counter the imminent attacks on the border of the Spanish land in the Sahara, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco and General Agustin Munoz Grandes mobilized forces.

The small, representative soldiers on the map in the middle of the room were moved accordingly, and the numbers and distribution of the Spanish armed forces were re-evaluated. Torcuato Miranda Fernandez worked in conjunction with Carmen Polo and Licinio de la Fuente de la Fuente to apply the Spanish patriotism campaign in the region, seeking support from the locals. This program had been written by our Council a few days earlier and successfully applied throughout Spain.

I responded to the crisis in Africa by contacting the Spanish Ambassador in Morocco for more information regarding the movement in the country and by reaching out to the international community for support, especially requesting that the United Nations repeal its statement supporting the independentist movement of the region.

While the committee began the day with high spirits, having rapidly and comprehensively responded to the crisis in Africa, we soon received an intercepted telegram that the ETAs were moving quickly. They had established a new training camp in Gibraltar.

This was a problem on almost every level. First, the territory of Gibraltar was being claimed by the British, but we, the Spanish government and people, maintained that the contentious territory was ours. Additionally, the expansion of the ETA organization reflected negatively on the international level, given that the German Honorary Consul whom they had kidnapped had not reappeared. If we did not immediately respond with due force to this threat, our reputation as a legitimate state with control over its people was at risk. Having made this assertion clearly to the committee, we got to work!

Again, Munoz Grandes and Carrero Blanco responded militarily with due diligence, while I contacted the German government, again declaring our continued vigilance and efforts toward finding the Honorary Consul. I also contacted relevant international bodies regarding the lack of British control on the strait of Gibraltar, emphasizing that were the Spanish government given control of this area, the infiltration by ETA would have never occurred. This rhetoric turned an unfavorable reality into a possible benefit in the recuperation of Gibraltar.

However, the resolution was not so favorable. El Consejo del Reino neither managed to locate the Honorary Consul alive, nor did we advance in our control over Gibraltar. This failure infuriated Franco and made him suspect an infiltrator in our committee. His wrath and scrutiny were unbearable. El Consejo was frozen and unable to do anything. Thankfully, it was time for our lunch break!

For lunch, my committee decided to eat together, while vowing to not talk about anything of substantive relevance. We walked over to the Taipei 101 food court and were greeted by the overwhelming options of restaurants. I randomly chose a Chinese restaurant that I had not yet tried, pointed to an appetizing bowl of noodles, and paid the cashier, all in silence. Despite my inability to say more than “thank you” in Chinese, the non-verbal communication was clear and transcended the language barrier.

My noodles were delicious, but the conversation with an animated group of Spanish-speaking WorldMUN delegates was by far the best part of the meal. We compared and contrasted our schools, discussed the current national political situation with the Venezuelans and laughed at how loud we were in comparison to the Taiwanese.

Then, before heading back to committee, I checked-in with the SMUMUNers. It seemed like everyone was having an equally intense, but good day in committee. As I wished my teammates good luck, I headed back to the committee room ready to wrap up the year 1971.

Back in committee, sitting at our U-shaped table, we knew that we could no longer ignore the question of succession. So, I began by evaluating the current situation and our options: Don Carlos was not a favorable candidate in the eyes of France, Juan Carlos’ licentious behavior had equally invalidated him, and the Carlist line was simply not an option, despite Carlos Hugo’s presence on the Council.

So, who remained? Of course, Don Alfonso de Borbon y Dampierre, the recent husband of Franco’s granddaughter, Maria del Carmen Martinez-Bordiu y Franco. This was it. The Duke was to be sent for immediately, so that he could be questioned and prepared. He agreed almost immediately, and with the exception of three council members, the law was amended as necessary, and he was named successor. A final statement of approval by Franco sealed the decision.

But, what about the government? Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco and I shared similar misgivings regarding the maintenance of francoist values in future regimes. In a private conference, Carrero Blanco and I restructured the new government, maintaining many of the same ministers in similar positions, so as to smoothen the transition, especially since Don Adolfo had not been present for many of the decisions of Franco’s regime and was not a confidante of the Council.

This was quietly circulated throughout the Council and signed by more than the majority, instating it as policy, if approved by Franco, making Carrero Blanco the President of the Government and myself the Vice-President. However, this piece of law was never to be considered again because just as we were going to present it to Franco, he stormed into the room.

As all of the ministers took their seats, the silence in the committee room was deafening, and Franco’s angry countenance was petrifying. We knew something was wrong. Our fears were validated as Franco informed us that El Pardo had been infiltrated, and El Consejo was no longer secure. We were shocked! Where would we relocate to? Eventually, we determined that Salamanca was the best alternative. Immediately, the Council was relocated, with sincere consideration for Carmen Polo, La Senora del Pardo, who was shocked, but remained stoic and strong.

The breach of security was immediately being investigated by every intelligence agency in the country, while I ascertained that the movement and the attack were contained within Spain and did not affect our reputation internationally. However, the discovery of the perpetrators was to be made another day. After six hours of debate, a full attack in Africa, a deterrence strategy in Gibraltar, the death of a foreign diplomat, the assignment of a new heir, and the secret relocation of the government, the second committee session for the day was over, and so were the most difficult substantive moments of WorldMUN 2010.

Tomorrow, in a more relaxed environment, we would certainly determine the identity of the traitors, and their punishment would be equal to their crime, no doubt. But for now, I could leave the committee room proud that I had been a significant player in each and every decision of the past days, especially today.

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Day of action

An update from Igli, a first-year civil engineering and finance major:

“A king’s scepter represents his earthly power, the focus of royal authority. But [justice and reconciliation] is higher than the scepter. It’s enthroned in the hearts of [each country].”

On day five of committee, the delegates continued the rigorous debate involving the issue of reconciliation and justice in societies after extreme violations of human rights. As stated in the quote above, to ensure fairness in societies, as nations we must act in a responsible manner to set the foundation for true justice. The delegates in this committee felt a responsibility to reshape the legal framework currently in place to implement a system that ensured the protection of human rights and that created an efficient process of healing.

Personally, in this committee we were representing a nation that has experienced one of the early ripple effects of genocide. From 1915 to 1923, more then one and a half million Armenians were killed and half a million survivors exiled by the Turkish government of the Ottoman Empire. A century later the existence of this tragedy is still being debated by the international committee.

Even though there is a substantial body of evidence documenting this genocide, political interests have prevented the international community from the simple task of recognizing the genocide. As stated in the words of Adolf Hitler, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Keeping this in mind, Chad and I stood by the principles of Armenia – to introduce a system that truly brought justice with the support of all nations. Realizing Armenia’s dark past as victims of this inefficiency, we truly felt responsible to fight and seek a revolutionary change for those principles.

At this point we were all scurrying around trying to merge certain ideas into one resolution outlining the new foundation of approaching justice and reconciliation. Allied with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, we pursued the support of draft resolution 1.3, which guaranteed sovereignty of each nation to regionally focus on justice and reconciliation, with international advisement and support.

Recognizing the ICC’s inefficiency to respect the countries’ cultural barriers, as delegates representing Armenia, we aided in the introduction of the RCHR (Regional Courts on Human Rights) to pursue such cases in a local approach.

We introduced the following substantive clauses:

The Legal Committee of this Assembly:
Supports restorative justice for those with the least degrees of responsibilities and suggests entering reintegration programs in cooperation with existing UN Agencies and local development programs.

Suggests states to consider adopting Reparation Programs that will encompass the following;
a. Psychological and physical rehabilitation for the victims.
b. Restitution and compensation for the damages caused by the human rights violations;

Encourages the creation of educational programs, directed by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), to;
a. Educate citizens on their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the consequences of violation.
b. Raise awareness about local judicial systems and practices.

In return, through the collaboration of these ideas with the Russian Federation and a mixture of African and Asian countries, we were able to come into an agreement. Our support grew as our resolution adopted principles that respected local and cultural sovereignty, rehabilitation efforts aiding the reconciliation process, and the establishment of a legal framework involving hybrid courts that modeled the merits of the Gacaca courts and the Inter-American Court of Justice.

The level of empowerment that we felt today was indescribable. Overall, it was a day of decisive action!

In that same spirit of empowerment and action, we unanimously motioned for an evening of fun! Harvard University and the National Taiwan University organized an extraordinary social event that involved a cultural display of music and martial arts. It was unimaginable to witness the talent the students possessed. To complete the night, the organizers introduced a trampoline for anyone brave enough to prove whether they were truly the master of kung fu at the party.

Taking a moment to think, I felt a sense of inspiration and reward in an atmosphere when one had the opportunity to meet friends with different ideals and customs. I witnessed the diversity that this world is composed of and in return realized that this diversity – rather than bringing division – creates completion in our lives.

“Kung Fu Master Night” – The title says it all! This was a true memorable evening of dance and cultural exchange for all.

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Strategies and celebrations

An update from Adam, a first-year international relations major:

A quick breakfast from 7/11 included microwavable bagel/egg sandwiches and water bottles that Nick and I enjoyed on our way to the first and only committee session of the day. As we entered the subway train I pulled my sandwich out of the still hot plastic bag and devoured it in front of the morning crowd. An elderly woman politely told me in Chinese that I was being very rude by eating my breakfast on the subway. I felt like the quintessential impolite American oblivious to cultural norms.

So for the remainder of the ride to the conference center Nick and I discussed strategy for committee instead of enjoying our hot delicious sandwiches. There were 4 points that were discussed on the subway and that became our focus for committee:

1. Direct debate away from adding incentives to the NPT because no one could compromise and there had been little debate on other topics of concern.

2. Focus discussion on support for the IAEA’s “Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” which dealt with regulation of nuclear fuel cycle technologies.

3. Poise and confidence

4. Engage the delegations that were sitting in the back saying nothing – this proved extremely helpful because they would be signatories to our working papers.

TGI Friday’s and Cabaret night

After committee we had some team bonding at a TGI Friday’s across the street from the convention center. We learned that in Taipei instead of fire escapes they have something called escape slings. These escape slings had a six-step assembly process, which we all thought would be dangerous and stressful in an emergency situation.

Cabaret night took place at the Denwell Wedding House, which was a massive venue where many delegations had the opportunity to get up on stage and share a dance or song that was specific to the region they came from. We saw many familiar faces from committee and shared many laughs as we all made fools of ourselves on the dance floor.

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Leading the debate

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

ModelUN10.jpg Today was the first committee session of conference. It is a very important day, as it is when you establish your position within your committee for the remainder of the week – will you be a leader or a follower?

I sat down in my strategic position and found myself sitting between the delegates representing Russia and Brazil. One student was from Belgium, and the other was from Sydney. The fact that together we represented three continents shows just how diverse the students at World MUN are.

There was a motion to open committee, a speakers list was set, and then debate quickly began regarding which topic area we would focus on within committee. Topic A was Neglected Tropical Diseases, and Topic B was Medical Tourism. The majority of students within the committee were pushing for Neglected Tropical Diseases, but I maintained my country’s firm position and fought for Medical Tourism.

After a few hours of debate through the speakers list and moderated caucusing, Topic A: Neglected Tropical Diseases was chosen based on the argument that the issue was more pressing and affecting more individuals around the world.

Once the topic was chosen, it was crucial for me to start forming alliances and finding my allies. Unfortunately, this did not come easily as many of Armenia’s typical allies were not represented within World MUN’s World Health Organization (WHO). Sitting next to Russia and Brazil turned out to be a wonderful thing, though, as together we formed a partnership of Eastern European and South American States. Additionally, they were very strong and motivated delegates. As debate continued the three of us started pulling together a working paper.

After lunch, we resumed with Committee Session 2. Debate continued and we worked on our working paper more – the important thing about this committee session was that the leaders of the week were visibly pulling forward.

Monday evening was the WHO committee dinner. Between Committee Session 2 and Committee Dinner, some of us WHO delegates had to attend the mandatory head delegate meeting, and so we needed to meet up with the group at the restaurant later. Two delegates from Italy and I hopped in a cab to meet up with the group. What should have been a 10-minute ride was 45 minutes long as the driver chose to drive us all around the city. We made it to the restaurant eventually and luckily for us it was a buffet and so joining late was not a problem. On the plus side, I made two new friends!

After committee dinner, I went back to the hotel and met up with the SMUMUNers and we all went out together to the evening event. The evening’s event was a Lunar New Year celebration. It is Taiwan’s most important festival, marking the start of the Chinese year. The celebration had all of the traditional New Year customs – “dragon and lion” parades, dancing, traditional foods, a red dress code – and this all took place outside at the Chain Kai Shek Memorial Hall. They had transformed the square into a magnificent evening venue with large lanterns, booths and lights. It was a very fun evening!

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Finding allies

An update from Dana, a sophomore international studies and human rights major:

It’s Monday, and today was our first full day of conference! Yesterday was amazing with the opening ceremonies and the speech by the President of the Republic of China. The political implications of holding a world conference here in Taiwan are so great considering its renowned autonomy from the fearful People’s Republic of China. So far I have loved this interesting city, and now it is time for the business part of the trip.

Blaine and I got to committee early enough for us to find seating at the tables in the front: half the room is tables, and the other half is auditorium seating. Sitting in this front section I knew was good to make a presence the first day of conference. This was the conference I have been waiting all my life for! I was so nervous; yet so excited! Having Blaine with me made everything much better.

As soon as we walked into the room people would come up to discuss the order of topics. We were seated next to the Russian Federation, represented by the Belgian MUN Society. This boy and girl are very friendly and I’m glad as Armenia that we strategically placed ourselves next to Russia early. Our allegiance must be known!

Going into conference we were hoping for the agenda to be set Topic 2: refugees, followed by Topic 1: indigenous peoples. This is exactly how it got set. I’m thankful we were on the list early on to speak because this committee is huge and the chair does really seem interested in being fair. I feel that Blaine and I were fully engaged in debate on refugees and were good at pushing our points on demilitarization of refugee camps. The books Chelsea Brown loaned me on refugee camps are proving to be very helpful as well.

When the first committee session ended I was relieved to finally be able to eat. We headed over to Taipei 101. Finally I enjoy some American food when I get McDonald’s! I am not very well adapted to live in Asia, as everyone on the team has already taken note.

We observed some of our committee members having a working lunch. This, I feel, is quite unfortunate. I believe that all work for Model United Nations should be done during the committee session itself and any outside time should be for getting to know other team members or even your own.

I knew going back to committee for the second session was going to be discouraging since nations were already forming alliances over lunch. Nonetheless, I’m used to this at conferences, and I wasn’t going to let it get me down much at all. What was getting me down, however, was the tiredness I still was experiencing from jetlag.

This second session seemed to go by in a blur. I was so completely tired, but I tried to be involved again as well. Debate continued as it had before. The only difference in this session was that the regional blocks all broke off to form working papers.

Tonight was also the night for the committee dinners! Thankfully ours was in our hotel, so I would be able to change and rest up before. Instead of going for the dinner part, since I’m still sick of the food here, Blaine, Danna and I decided to walk around and find something to eat at a bakery. I had some delicious sweet buns and mini banana bread.

MUN9.jpg Then Blaine and I decided to go down and join our committee. There are two Taiwanese girls from committee we are beginning to become friends with. After dinner we of course went back to sleep only to be rudely awakened by Nick – we had promised him we would go out for the social event tonight since we turned in early the night before. Thus we got up and got ready for the Lunar New Year party.

This event was so awesome! It was at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, and we couldn’t believe the party was for us. The memorial was absolutely breathtaking and the party was outstanding! We decided not to stay too late, however, because we knew we had to be up early for committee the next day.

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First day in committee

An update from Lauren, a junior political science and French/Russian major:

Today marked the first committee session in the WorldMUN 2010 conference, and I was a little nervous. My committee, the Social Humanitarian and Cultural committee (SOCHUM), was a rather large committee with over 100 students. Thankfully, this committee called for partners, and I was lucky enough to have a partner with a lot more experience in MUN.

Prior to arrival, every delegate is given a background guide outlining the two topics that will be introduced and the general information concerning these topics and their history with the United Nations. For SOCHUM, the two topics were the treatment of refugees and the rights of indigenous peoples.

My partner and I worked together to find information about these topics, find our assigned country’s position, and write and submit a position paper. Although we were adequately prepared, the butterflies were still flying that first day.

My partner and I arrive about 20 minutes early and find other eager students from around the world eager to meet us. We tell them that we are from SMU and representing the Republic of Armenia, and we begin to find our allies and discuss the topic that we would like to get to first.

Committee is then formally called into session, role is taken, and we voted and debated on which topic to discuss first, and the committee decided on refugees. The debate began, and my partner and I represented not only the Republic of Armenia but also SMU in this exciting international debate.

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Resolutions: Personal and political

An update from Nick, a first-year business major who served on the Disarmament and International Security Committee:

Committee: And so it begins

The day had finally arrived. After countless hours of research and preparation for the Harvard WorldMun conference, debate would commence.

ModelUN14.png Generally, the first committee session is devoted to determining the topic. Since we are provided differing topics, we had to research both and be prepared to debate which one we wanted to see put on the floor. Topic A was the Non Proliferation Treaty, and Topic B was Terrorism. Once the topic is chosen, debate begins, blocs form, and countries distinguish themselves.

Armenia was not the most influential country in either topic. However, that would not stop us from having a voice within the Disarmament and Security Committee, DISEC.

Committee I

Adam and I voiced our opinion in front of a little over 100 countries and 200 delegates. The topic of our liking, Nuclear Proliferation, was chosen. Topic debate took up a fair amount of the first committee session, as it usually does, but we had moved on to discussing some general concerns among the present nations. For example, DISEC spoke extensively on the Pakistani and India relations as well as North Korea’s current position.

Before we knew it, debate had closed for the first committee session and we went into the second committee session that same day with the plan to start creating working papers and presenting ideas necessary for Nuclear Proliferation.

Committee II

As ideas were being formed and countries were aligning together, we began to lean toward Working Paper 1.4 with Russia, our near and historical partner. Armenia believed that this working paper met the objective of working papers well by addressing issues in an informal manner and potentially including clauses that may be used in the future for draft resolutions. It is a tool to advance debate and get concrete ideas and theories for solution on paper. In overview, Working Paper 1.4 spoke of stopping enrichment for offensive purposes and increasing transparency in accordance with the IAEA.

By the end of the day, there were about eight working papers being recognized. Clearly DISEC had a great day’s work. There were still more working papers to come tomorrow in the third committee session, but the move toward draft resolutions was becoming apparent among many of the working papers and their signatories.

Social Event: The Lunar New Year in Taipei

After a long day of debate, the entire SMU team was ready to relax. After being thoroughly impressed with the Global Village event, Adam and I were excited to go out and see our new committee friends. Tonight, Adam and I finally convinced everyone to go out and get over their jet lag. We assured them they would not be disappointed as Harvard and the National Taiwan University had set up another great venue. Tonight, the WorldMun delegates would celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall!

Although it was held outside, the music and performers they had were great. However, we were sure everyone back in the States would be disappointed if we did not get up onstage. So, of course, nearly the entire SMU delegation along with our William & Mary friends joined the performance in front of about 800 delegates. We even waved a Texas flag for all of the “World” to see. Needless to say, SMU had a successful start to the Lunar New Year.

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An exciting start

An update from Lauren, a junior political science and French/Russian major:

ModelUN4.jpg After a day of trying to recover from jetlag and exploring the exciting city that is Taipei, my fellow teammates and I awoke the next day excited for the opening ceremonies for World Model United Nations 2010.

The opening ceremonies at any ModelUN conference are always exciting because they mean that all of the preparation that you and your teammates have done is finally going to be utilized in an exciting and hopefully successful conference. But the WorldMUN opening ceremonies are rumored to be even more exciting, and this year the host country did not disappoint.

That afternoon, my teammates and I took the metro en route to the ceremony location, only to find that we were in the wrong place. After a bit of confusion, we finally arrived at the correct location to find ourselves pleasantly surprised and a bit in shock by the grandeur of our surroundings.

With beautifully groomed gardens and huge expansive plazas, the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall stood before us, with thousands of other international students entering its doors to watch the opening ceremonies. A memorial to the Republic of China’s founding father, Dr. Yat-Sen, the building exudes the nation’s Asian heritage and complex history, and I was honored to be standing before it.

As we were being escorted to our seats, I turned to my right to see the formal changing of guards in front of a huge statue of Sun Yat-Sen. We reached the doors that ushered us into the auditorium and saw the 2,000 international students who would be our fellow delegates for the next six days.

As the ceremonies began, I was shocked to hear who would be giving the Opening Address: the President of the Republic of China, Mr. Ma Ying-Jeou. After his speech, I was suddenly more aware of the political implications of having this mock-political conference in Taiwan.

ModelUN8.jpg Following Mr. President came the Mayor of Taipei, the President of National Taiwan University, as well as the Presidents of the Harvard and National Taiwan University ModelUN Team.

The ceremony ended with a rousing Taiwan aboriginal dance and a closing speech, and the gavel came down on the podium, declaring the official beginning of World Model United Nations 2010. Our team’s research and preparation would finally be put to the test, and I could not be more excited.

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Opening ceremonies

An update from Chad, a junior finance and economics major:

We got up around 8 a.m. and walked down the street to a burger place called “Mos Burger” to eat. After eating, we explored the area around the hotel.

We stumbled upon the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. We explored the area for quite a while. We saw the monument and went into the museum. The museum was filled with numerous artifacts about Chiang Kai-Shek, including some of his personal letters.

We then went back to the hotel and changed to go to the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremonies were held at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. The highlight of the ceremonies was when the President of the Republic of China spoke to the group. The mayor of Taipei City also spoke.

After the opening ceremonies, we took the subway to a Taiwanese restaurant where the group ate dinner. After dinner we went back to the hotel to change for Global Village that evening. We took the subway to Taipei City Hall where the Global Village was being held. Many different universities from around the world had booths set up so we could learn more about the different cultures. After Global Village we took the bus back to the hotel for the night.

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