This is part two of a four part series about my trip to Cairo. To start at the beginning, click here.
Sunday began with picking up our things during registration. We were given these quality fabric briefcases/binders and name tags. I found out I was ambassador of Azerbaijan, meaning I would be in the Security Council. Then it was time for some sports. We could choose which one we wanted to play from football (soccer), basketball, and volleyball, so I chose basketball. We played a couple games and then the rest of the time before lunch, we watched the other teams that were playing and socialized. I met so many people, and though I wouldn’t consider myself to be considerably forgetful with names, this was a special case. It was overwhelming how many people were introducing themselves, so I was struggling. But as there were only 6 foreigners at the conference, including Quinten and myself, thanks to safety concerns from other countries, everyone else remembered my name easily.
After lunch, there was a time for lobbying and merging, meaning trying to get other delegates in your committee to support your resolution and/or merge their resolution with yours. This was a bit unproductive for me considering I found out which committee I would be in just a few hours before so I didn’t even have a resolution. But I got to meet some of the people in Security Council and we small talked until it was time for workshops. I decided to go to one on the International Court of Justice, as we’ve never done that in our meetings so I figured I could learn a bit about it. It was pretty interesting, I’m not sure that I would want to be part of it just because I really like the debate and everything that goes into creating resolutions. Once the workshops were over, all the students went home to change clothes and regroup before going on a dinner cruise on the Nile!
When I went to Egypt in 2010 with my dad and my sister, we went on a cruise pretty similar to this one. Though slightly tacky/touristy, the boat was really nice. Plus, there was a stunning view from the top of the boat, looking out over the Nile at night and seeing the city lights reflected on the water. The pictures below, left to right, first row then second row: the entrance to the restaurant that owns the boat; the Nile; the boat we were on; the restaurant as viewed from the boat when we were docking; Quinten, myself, and Pauline; and another view of the Nile.
During the cruise, Quinten and I were lucky to have an intriguing and informative conversation with a student named Walid. We were up on the deck of the boat and he started to point out various landmarks and buildings. Then, he showed us a building that was burned during the revolution, which led to stories about the revolution and things that followed – the new government, recent protests, the validity of the elections, and so on. I say ‘lucky’ because it’s not everyday you get to have a chat with a well-informed Egyptian teen about such a historically important topic while floating down the Nile.
By the time that Amina and I got back to her flat after the cruise, it was late and we were exhausted. I managed to stay up long enough to send a message or two and attempt a little bit of research before falling asleep.
Monday began with the Opening Ceremony. I was told that as I was Ambassador of Azerbaijan, different than being a Delegate, I would be carrying the flag of Azerbaijan during the ceremony. I had no idea that that distinction existed in the conference, and then realized that I wasn’t 100% sure what the flag even looked like. So, a bit bewildered, I made my way to the area off stage where the flags were, managed to find the right one, and then got in the alphabetical line. They had apparently rehearsed this at some point before the conference, so I just followed the lead of the person ahead of me and tried not to look too confused.
After the parade of flags or whatever it was officially called, the ceremony carried on with some musical performances from a student that had been on the Arabic X-Factor and a group of young girls from the school that lip sang two pre-recorded songs. The school seemed to be (understandably) pretty concerned about leaving a good impression throughout the conference; partly because there were important people visiting and observing. Well anyways the performance was nice and the girls were definitely talented, recorded or not! There were also speeches from student leaders in the conference, like the Secretary General, and from adults, like the co-founder of the Free Egyptians Party. In my opinion, his speech was quite politicized for an MUN conference but overall was decent. The pictures below are myself carrying the flag; Amina and I (she was Ambassador of Egypt); and the group of young girls that sang.
After the Opening Ceremony, there was sometime for lobbying and merging within committees. The idea behind lobbying and merging is that the different delegations (read: students that each represent an entire delegation from a country) come up with different resolutions, and then use this time to merge the common resolutions until there are just a couple left that will be debated in the following days.
The Security Council’s two topics were combating transnational organized crime and the Israel-Iran conflict. Like I said, I didn’t have resolutions prepared, but luckily I managed to do enough research that I knew Azerbaijan’s general stances on topics. I had a little extra time after lunch so I came up with a list of key things that needed to be included in whatever resolution I would support during the second part of the lobbying and merging. This turned out to be helpful as I ended up as a co-submitter on a resolution because I was so involved in fixing it after a merger. Myself, China, Russia, and Australia stayed an hour after the session was supposed to be done, making sure that it was as neutral and yet effective as possible. The pictures below are Quinten, Pauline, and I after the opening ceremony; during the lobbying and merging session; and Arabian Night.
When we finally submitted the final version of the resolution, we went down to the grassy area/soccer field in front of the school that had been transformed into “Arabian Night.” There were food carts where you could get various types of traditional Egyptian food, tables and chairs, and an open area for dancing to the Arabian music that was playing. After getting some food, some girls and I decided to go dance. Which became more of a dance lesson for me as I quickly realized that I did not know how to dance to Arabian music. One of the fundamental differences is hard to describe through words, but basically in American/Latin/International dance music your hips move side to side, and in Arabian music your hips move up-down. Or at least they’re supposed to! We were all laughing as I tried (and I’ll admit – I sort of failed) to learn the different dance moves, but it was so much fun.
At one point I thought to myself, How in the world did I end up learning to dance from a bunch of Egyptian girls, in Cairo, on a Monday night? A year ago, I never imagined I would get to make these memories, but I’m so thankful I did.
Click here to read the next post about my trip to Cairo.