Quite often, one of the decisive criteria when selecting conferences to attend is the host university/organization. Therefore, when an Ivy League University, responsible for one of the oldest simulations on a global scale decides to run a MUN program you can’t but check it out at least once. Up today, Harvard has managed to maintain a permanent spot in the muniverse’s heart with its rotating conference, organized annually in a different location.
In particular, it takes place during the University’s spring break and is preceded by a very competitive host city selection process. Every year, numerous cities place spectacular bid proposals and after a rather meticulous screening, the host city is announced. One of the bigger tasks that the host has to undertake is the balance of shielding the Worldmun spirit and combining unique attractions that the location offers. It is this mentality that over the years has ascribed the title “Olympics of Model UN” to every single Worldmun edition. This year, Panama City, Panama set new records of awesomeness for any team to follow.
In my opinion, this edition managed to perfectly convey the dilemma of current diplomacy and perhaps the challenges that young diplomats will eventually need to deal with. Geographically speaking, you had the chance to MUN in the heart of a key route to many major discoveries. The vibe of Panama, in particular, encapsulates all the major questions that any aspiring international figure needs to answer at least once; visiting places that are not normally included in a travel list, various social-economic differences to experience and the tremendous need to impress everyone while trying to remain polite to name a few. The Panama Canal offers a breathtaking view and a potential re-evaluation of the importance that a canal may initially have in one’s opinion. Additionally, one visit to Panama will definitely change your views on economics since is a heavily dollarized economy with a magnificent culture and customs in peril of being lost to globalization. In other words, a beautiful country, full of passion and great desire to evolve is on the threshold of being westernized. Personally, I would recommend visiting before Panamanian/Venezuelan become but a dialect lost to a Spanish friendly version of English. Let me not forget side events like the Resolution Project, offering a constantly interesting way to actually implement a "feasible only in draft resolution" idea. Also, there was an ICC lunch on where you could meet idols of the field and network- if you don't believe that arbitration is connected to diplomacy, feel free to stop reading this article now.
Oh, yes logistically speaking there are not many things that could be improved. The Panamanians literally pulled a miracle and did deliver greatly. To give you a better understanding, there were volunteers waiting for us from the beginning to the end: from the airport where anxious people were trying to find their suitcases to committees where they would deliver notes in attire way more compatible to Western Business than many MUN fashion icons have claimed over the years. The host team in its entirety gave you no reason for not enjoying yourself to the maximum when there. It is sad that not more MUNers had the chance to explore this city and I honestly hope to see a major MUN event at Panama happening shortly. Very interesting guest speakers including the President of Panama who could have easily been a MUNer since he was absolutely swagalicious to listen to! The main reason though, that I have nothing negative to say about the logistics is because the team managed to find the golden line between professionalism and the lost unicorn forest we are desperately looking around for when simulating. MUN is a very competitive game, and the Panamanians gave you the luxurious version of it.
Another thing that caught my attention were the Harvard students themselves; over the years I have heard a lot about them from snobbish behavior to lack of substantive MUN knowledge and was quite surprised to realize the extent of jealousy that some people can have. First things first, we are talking about a MUN they are having during their spring break and this is on its own hats off. Then, they keep adjusting to the feedback they receive, indication that they know what’s going on out there and they are not isolated in some amazing library of theirs. Moving on, they do talk and make very interesting observations on every single aspect; problem is that sometimes they are Ivy League knowledge style so we may disregard them as snobbism. Most importantly, they are open to discussing and comparing chairing styles, way more than many Europeans I have seen at least. Lastly, the trend of having internals as main chairs is not a Worldmun privilege; it’s a policy with both positive and negative aspects. Indeed, negative encounters can occur over the years but this is by no means a reason to disregard a conference overall.
Agenda wise, this could be perhaps called as the most Venezuela centered simulation of the last years, and other topics related to the general interest of the region without undermining the international element. Generally, a rigorous agenda with extremely innovative ideas (such as cryptocurrencies to the assistance of indigenous people) was waiting for a week that Hammarskjöld would have loved to join. Muning 24/7 since it’s impossible to get everything done during session’s hours, competing and embracing new ideas, creating international connections and trying to create a Game of Thrones season finale atmosphere with a smile on your face is a huge part of what Model UN is all about nowadays.
I know, I sound way too cheesy and it may be difficult for you to understand it but it’s perfectly fine, you may join next year’s edition and get an opinion of your own![applications for Assistant Chairs open every July]
Ps: I could go into more technical details, but considered better to focus on the general impression and still have a quite big article.On a personal level, huge thanks and an open European welcome to all of the specpol's chairing team, Jimena, Jack and of course Ani :)