There’s a crowd of people ahead of you putting their heads through a white and blue lanyard that they have been told is basically their lifeline. They’re all young, the spots on their face evidence of them being somewhere between an adult and a child, and yet they’re all dressed like miniature politicians or ambassadors. Some are staring at the ground, eyebrows furrowed, some are paging through their notes, and some are just looking off into space, completely paralyzed.
They’re loud, and the lawn is filled with faces you don’t know. You’re scared. Scared you may not know enough, scared you will stutter and fail to answer anything properly, scared of people’s laughter at your expense… You’re even scared of being scared.
And there I am, trying to not freak out. Reciting a calming mantra within my mind, amused yet disgusted by my own terror. Telling myself; look, look at that bastard’s silly face. He looks scared shitless, much like you, so shut up.
The moment you realize that the difference between you and other delegates is nothing; that is the first lesson MUN teaches you. That there is exactly one thing that you need to remember; that there are approximately a thousand other delegates trying to breathe, and they need their breath just as much as you do.
There are times when you are hungry, and there are times where you aren’t because there isn’t enough space in your throat to accommodate speaking and food and the same time. There are times when you feel unease, as you sit down and think if anyone understood what you were talking about. The morning hours pass quickly as the gavel bangs repeatedly on the table and shouts of ‘Decorum’ permeate the room, even though no one is talking about the decorations of the Disarmament Committee Room, which is basically, a dungeon.
You’re up on the podium, but it’s been a few times now, and it feels more like being in front of your class rather than strangers. It feels like you’re in front of friends, and the amount of judgment you used to feel has dissipated into good humor and confidence.
Confidence, yes, even for those whose voice still falters as they’re trying to finish their sentence, you can tell their legs are not trembling, you can tell they’re grasping the podium with defiance, and not insecurity. They’re defiant towards their previous choices to remain silent when their opinion was most important. Too defiant to yield to their desire to run, and instead they stand, and face the placards.
That is the second thing that MUN teaches you: Face the placards, don’t rush to turn your back to them.
What is the only place in the world you can make real friends at a party? What is the place where you can crazy dance with complete strangers without minding your wallet? What is the place where it’s so easy to empathize with so many people simultaneously? What is the place where all your notes are public, and your admin knows EVERYTHING?
It’s in a gym filled with teenagers with their hearts in their throats. It’s the heart that sometimes escapes their mouths that makes a speech memorable. It’s the beatings that pulse through the room as they breathe in and out. It’s in a crowded cafeteria, in an endless football court, in a cramped room, in the faces of each and every delegate raising their hands.
It’s in the adrenaline you feel, the spontaneous generation of questions that keep you on your toes, your first time at an MUN conference is forever remembered in all the spasms you feel in your chest. It’s remembered in the hilarious jokes that untangled the muscles in your shoulders. It’s remembered in glorious laughter and applause.
I don’t think I will ever be able to forget such an experience. How can you forget your classmates shouts of joy, how can you forget your own name being called out, how can you possibly forget the arms of all your friends around you, happy that you’re happy?
I have felt so much in those three days, even more than I have been able to feel in sometimes three weeks. It has given me so much, and there is no verbal means I can use to do it justice, though I tried.
I have never felt such sheer amounts of pride for my school.
We have faced storms (literal and metaphorical ones), arguments, heartbreak and nostalgia together. We have shared memories and pain, sleepless nights of staring up and asking if we are doing something right.
This was our answer. Hard work and dedication pays off, always.
You can see the sweat and tears that our MUN team put into their work, it’s visible in the smiles that will wrap around their lips when you ask them what it was like.
Written by Martina Hysi
Edited by Hannah Cook and Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe