An Unreal Experience.
It seemed impossible, every step of the way. I was selected as part of a ten member delegation which was to represent The Lyceum School and Pakistan at the Annual Harvard Model United Nations 2011. It seemed impossible then.
I had four days as my deadline to submit my passport and interestingly not only was my passport expired, I was without an NIC card too which had brought the entire process to a standstill. I still remember my numerous visits to the newly opened NADRA office which was apparently made for the business class who could get their Id cards in a week [with additional price of course] but for me, a week was too long. I went through the process which I’d always imagined to be a very interesting one with rather confusion, fret and stress. I could give you the details further, which are very amusing [my online data was transferred to Islamabad without my fingerprints and hence I went through the process again.YEAH. and did I mention Eid holidays were in two days? ] yet too many for this blog!
I held the invitation letter from Harvard University with my name on it and I just thought, ‘WOW’. Everybody would say the same thing to me, this is too big an opportunity to miss so don’t let the problems get in your way. But it was my mother who said to me that if God wants to me to go there I will get there, no matter what.
And soon after, things started falling in place. I now had my passport ready and although I was separated from my team during the visa application, I got the date before them. It was the 13th of December and a three-hour delay, I was called for my interview which went smoothly. I had been issued a five-year multiple visa.
Now all that was left was getting the money to get there. Half of the team needed sponsorships and in this day and age when businesses are barely covering their costs, asking them to sponsor students who promote the soft imagine of Pakistan on such a platform all seemed very noble but not profitable. And so fellows, this is one major roadblock. But like I said, everything was meant to be and so happened. After a number of unsuccessful meetings, no call backs, rich people being out-of-town, we finally collected enough amount to fly, travel, eat and drink in Boston.
Our flight was in transitions, from Bahrain to London and then Boston. Travelling for almost thirty-two hours was excruciating at times, tiring yet extremely fun and memorable.
However I knew nothing would go as expected and that every step of the way new surprises would be waiting. This soon became true when after a smooth flight from Bahrain to London, when we were informed that our flight was cancelled due to excessive snow. Luckily we were transferred to British Airways with just one hour’s delay but unluckily leaving us without our excessively packed luggage. This was just one day before the conference. So naturally we were freaking out.
The day of the conference arrived and still no luggage. Some were now off to shop to the most luxurious Nubury Street while the rest of us were suffocating with stress, preparing last-minute speeches and trying to calm our nerves.
So about the conference and what is model united nations ?
Model United Nations is simply a simulation of the actual United Nations which is an international body that brings together over 180 countries, giving each country a platform to express their view and their concerns over global issues. The United Nations has numerous ‘organs’ which classifies these issues into political, social and humanitarian. The most highlighted being the Disarmament and International Security Council [DISEC], International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and the Security Council among many others.
On similar grounds the Model United Nations has students taking on the roles of ‘delegates’ who are assigned countries and committees. Based on the country that one receives, we have to understand the dynamics o that country, understand its foreign policy objectives and then form our basis on the issue at hand. The next task is align with your allies and be diplomatic enough to convince everyone with your views and then pass a resolution, which is a formal document which states the problem and the solutions.
Harvard Model United Nations is organized by Harvard University, one of the most prestigious institutions of the world. It gathers students from all around the world, with 3000 students from 37 countries taking part this year. The conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Boston and was spread over four days, entailed around thirty hours of heated debates and discussions.
The Lyceum School was assigned ‘Kazakhstan’ and I was part of a special ‘Summit on Globalization’ in which the topics of Local Entrepreneurship and Flow of Capital, Information and resources were discussed. What an amazing experience it was, competing and working together with students my age, from all around the world.
MUNing requires thinking on your feet, being alert and attentive, negotiating , coming up with new ideas, bloc-ing, writing working papers and resolutions and coping with politics that may turn nasty any time. And with consistent hard work, perseverance, patience and dedication we managed to not just survive the conference but attain accolades too. With four out of eight team members winning awards, we had done it. We had represented Pakistan and our School on such a huge platform , reaching this far despite the many hurdles, yet never giving up.
After the conference we then went around the city of Boston, the highlight of the tour was of course, Harvard University which mesmerized us with its glory and beauty which was enhanced manifolds by the snowfall. A visit was also paid to the Harvard Book Store aka The Coop which with its magnificence and ambience, left me in awe.
One of the many things that I was extremely excited about was yes, the Snow. For I’ve always been insanely inspired by it and had never gotten the chance to see it. And so when I reached Boston, densely covered in snow, everything seemed so soothing and mesmerizing, one of the many things on my wish list was complete.
And thus a team which started off with members without an NIC card, two passports, an expired visa and no sponsorship money was able to land in Boston even though all odds were against them. Achieving all this would have never been possible, had the team not stuck together as a family in good, bad and the worse.
There are a lot of people’s prayers and efforts that made it possible for me and the team to make it this far.Nothing would have been possible without the support of our parents, our school, our friends and family. So Thankyou everyone!