You will, I am hoping, at some point, recognize that I have made a very good pun at the title of this blog entry.
Over the last three days, I went to Delhi & attended an Model UN Conference, my first in nearly two years. The objective was simple: Win. The Conference had a cash prize unlike anything else I had seen before, and Model UN was something I reasonably enjoyed during my school days, so why not? Also, I got to take a good trip to Delhi, a place I had fallen in love with in November 2016 & maybe even meet with seniors. The best part of all this: I was going to be with friends.
If you knew me between Grade 9 and Grade 12, especially at Inventure, you would associate Nerd very easily with me, and as a consequence, associate Model UN with me. I doubt this was helped very much by the fact that during one Assembly, to get registrations for InMUN, I went up on stage and screamed “M-U-N is F-U-N”, a mantra that guided me in most of my undertakings between those 4 years.
Thursdays used to be PODs days, and learning the art of MUN and reading the news with a more nuanced eye took nearly a year. Understanding foreign policy is something that takes a lifetime, but by Grade 10, I began to feel confident enough to speak about international affairs with my parents. Especially my dad. He was always eager about how I had taken to the activity, and started prodding bits of international relations into our daily Skype calls. Quite excellent.
I participated in Model UN because I enjoyed research work and reading. MUN research was the easiest way to sit on my beanbag, open my laptop, and occasionally play FIFA, or surf the Internet. More often, however, I was on Wikipedia, the world’s gift to itself & the starting point of any research I do, even today. I’ll admit this without shame.
The Bengaluru MUN circuit is distinctly divided into two parts, per my belief. One was the old/city circuit – where Model UN had birthed in the city, and the side of town that had all the established MUNers, with all the MUN conferences. Then there was my part of the city. That thing that just cropped up as a result of urbanization, with 5 neighbouring schools participating in fests where they regularly competed amongst themselves and nobody else.
The old circuit was where everything happened. You heard of legends who walked into committee without research binders and managed to win Best Delegate, heroes who rallied troops during unmoderated caucuses and brought committee toward a unanimous resolution, and superheroes who were DPRK or Israel and beared the fury of the International Press without flinching.
Being on the other side of town, and as a result of the power rankings that determine the countries delegations are allotted, I spent most MUNs in relative obscurity, representing nations such as Rwanda in General Assemblies, where recognition ended up becoming a massive issue and I wielded no bloc formation power. Nonetheless, I devoted myself to my research and motored on, in the hope that one day I’d understand how to be better at the activity. Dutifully, I carried printouts of evidence I could submit to Executive Boards whenever I was called upon (if I alleged something), and divided my binder into three parts: one per agenda, and one for general country information.
I attended a Conference in Hyderabad, and firsthand experienced the potential to network, as I made friends from around the world. As a result of the Hyderabad experience, I became closer to juniors at school, understood their stories, and was taught about the art of persistence. Being away from home and having a bad day with committee just meant inflicting self-hate, thinking about how unwisely your parents had spent their money, or otherwise, how unenjoyable the experience was slowly becoming.
But the good Conferences, my God. The romanticism attached to Model UNs really stood out. All delegates were well-researched, as was the Executive Board. The Board recognized all delegates equally. Unmoderated caucuses involved very little yelling, and a lot of discussion on how to make committee move forward. Breaks in session were meant for socializing – making friends who you’d meet later on at some other MUN Conference. Breaks were also meant for pep talks – a bit of gyaan from senior delegates to motivate the first-timers, some enthusiasm to get everyone’s adrenaline rushing, and general inside jokes that would become a part of a delegation’s identity.
I loved Model UN for these reasons and more. Without the activity, I wouldn’t have read the newspaper outside of the Sports section. Without the activity, I wouldn’t have realized how much public speaking meant to me. And far more importantly, without the activity, I would have been left in the wrong MUN circuit, confining myself to a locality I was comfortable with. I wouldn’t have met friends across the city, nor would I have known people from different schools. All of that would have meant a gaping hole in my already basic level understanding of Bengaluru.
That would have been most depressing.
I went to Delhi with the hope of experiencing similar emotions. I told myself that in a phase where I devote my time to moots and debates, amongst much else, I’d re-discover my love for Model UN. I left, starry-eyed, and research on my laptop – for the first time. I had never used laptops in session before.
What I discovered was that the reconstruction of a romantic activity will never yield the same emotion.
Attending a Conference in a circuit I was unexposed to meant ‘fitting in’ to the culture of the circuit. And I couldn’t. I could not, for the life of me, over three days of session, give up the ideals of the Bengaluru circuit. Consequently, I did not win an award, and I was extremely disappointed with myself.
Over the course of Day 1, I realized I wasn’t enjoying committee at all. I made a valiant attempt to enjoy Day 2, speaking and raising my placard everytime motions & points were sought. However, my inability to speak the way other delegates did made it impossible to get recognized. Day 3 was just boredom. Paperwork and whatnot.
I persisted through all of this because I was desperate to relive what I had felt when I MUNed in Grade 9. I also continued till the end of the Conference because I was surrounded by incredible people, three to four of whom I am closer with today, than I was on Friday.
I am, however, unlikely to Model UN in Delhi in the recent future. Which is a sad thought.
What Delhi did give me, however, was two nights with friends, one night with seniors, and three days of continuous motivation from people via text. (Thanks, 3000)
Back to Khakhraland and Fafdadventures now.