Before I dive right in and post a bunch of updates, I’d just like to apologize for the super long hiatus! There’s a saying that you know when the food is good at a dinner party when the conversation stops for a bit, and there’s just silence as people are enjoying the meal. That’s kind of like my life the past month… It’s been so good (and busy) that I just haven’t had any time to reflect on it.
So if you’ve been following this blog since last year, you may remember that in March I attended a Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Cairo, Egypt. It was an incredible experience, but possibly the best part was that I became close to my host family, and in particular really became friends with my host sister Amina. She even got to come to our MUN conference in Mostar a month later!
Well this year, her school planned their conference for November. And something else that was different was that they wanted us to pay all the costs to get there, as compared to last year where they covered everything. We just didn’t have the capacity for that in our MUN club budget, so we told Amina’s school that we wouldn’t be able to send anyone. A week before the conference, Amina told us that the school would help with the costs, as they had before. But somehow, we didn’t get to making a decision about sending students from UWC to the conference until two days before the conference… So of course, we had just about given up. But suddenly I was talking with Amina, and long story short we made it work! So I got to go back to Egypt, and two other students, Christina and Derya, would be coming as well.
To say it was crazy would be an understatement – we found out that we were leaving for Cairo less than 24 hours before our plane took off! It wasn’t really the best time to be missing school, and I had nothing prepared for the conference, but it was still so worth it.
This time around, however, I will admit that I was much less concerned with the conference itself. I was just so happy to be reunited with Amina and her family, people that I honestly didn’t think I would see for years. They are such wonderful people, and I really felt like a distant relative or something this time around. I had such a nice conversation with Amina’s mom one evening; Christina stayed with us as well, so there were fun memories with Amina and her sister Fatima.
Anyway, because I was less invested in this conference, and because I wasn’t in the Security Council so there was far less drama than last year, I probably won’t write a play by play about the conference – just more of an overview of what happened. There was this cute picture of Amina and I on the first day, happy to be reunited:
The second day we were there, we went on a faluka in the morning – it’s a certain type of boat that cruised us along the Nile for a while. Last year we only went on a boat cruises at night, so I enjoyed the chance to get some stunning daytime pictures of the area around that section of the Nile, called Zamalaek.
At this year’s conference, I represented Belarus in the Human Rights Council. Which would already be a little funny, but then when I found out the topics, it was hilarious: Women’s access to healthcare and Internet freedom of speech. In MUN, it’s usually pretty enjoyable to be the “bad guy,” the country that doesn’t just fall in line with whatever the US and the UK think. Particularly in this council, many of the delegates were beginners in MUN, which meant that they didn’t take much convincing. I worked together with a delegate representing China to craft a ridiculous resolution that was meant to “protect” people’s freedom of speech, but really had so many loopholes and allowed for exceptions at the government’s discretion that it probably limited freedoms more than before – and it passed! The other delegate I worked with frequently was the one representing the US. Which wouldn’t exactly happen in real life, but we were sort of the two most influential speakers in the council (because, as I mentioned, it was full of beginners), so it made more sense to work together than against each other. He’s pictured below.
Another element to returning to this conference was my relationship with Derya. We first met at the previous conference, where she was introduced to me as “the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador to Egypt who will move to Bosnia next year.” When I found out that she would be moving, I tried to convince her to apply to UWC Mostar. There are only a few IB schools in BiH, so why not join our awesome one? She did end up applying and getting accepted, and I love that now I see her in the residence everyday! Below, on the left is a picture from the previous conference, and on the right is from this conference.
Click here to read the second part about my trip to Egypt.