Even though fall and rain checked in Belgrade long time ago, weather this morning was slightly better. No rain, no wind, few clouds here and there. So, I managed to enjoy my flight and view over the Belgrade - Rome route. Real "touch the sky" feeling.
So, that's it for the day 1! I look forward to meeting participants from all over the world and listening to inspiring speakers at this year's conference. Until tomorrow!
Second day started way too early. After rest of the MUNPlanet team arrived last night it took us some time to get around Rome and find our accommodation. When we finally found our hotel, we were greeted by our Secretary General, Edoardo Morgante. He was so kind to us, and gave us the rest of the information regarding our accommodation and ROMUN’s agenda for the following days. All this resulted being in bed at 1am. Finally.
In order to confront ROMUN’s busy agenda we got up at 6am. Get dressed, breakfast on the go and head to the Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters. First thing in order was registration which was very interesting event for me because that was the moment when I finally found out which country i will be representing. And the result wasn’t bad - Finland! Next thing was official start of the ROMUN 2015! Opening ceremony, held in Plenary Hall, started with welcome address by Project Coordinator, Giada Dionisi and Secretary General, Edoardo Morgante. They were followed with impressive guest speakers: Dan Gustafson, Deputy Director General of FAO, Giorgio Napolitano, Former President of the Italian Republic, Franco Frattini, President of SIOI, John R. Philips, US Ambassador to the Italian Republic, April Cohen, representative of the US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, Ekaterina Zagladina, President of the Permanent Secretariat of Nobel Peace Laureates’ Summits and Pietro Sferra Carini, representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Franco Frattini gave a speech on the current refugee crisis and we had a some sort of the flash mob where we raised our papers with a message to build bridges not walls.
We even received a message from Pope Francis! Another surprise was Live Stream From Milan EXPO where we had an opportunity to hear speech from United Nation’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon!
Before the First Plenary Session of the General Assembly we had a half an hour lunch break at the FAO canteen where we enjoyed an amazing view of Rome.
As the General Assembly started I found my seat with the rest of the delegation of Finland which consisted of delegates from all over the world. We heard speeches from our Chairs which encouraged us to take seriously upcoming sessions because we will be discussing important matters of Sustainable Development Goals. After this delegates took the floor with their speeches on the matter of SDGs and ideas how to support them.
We had a few hours before gala dinner so we took the opportunity to see some parts of the Rome. We managed to see Colosseo, Altare della Patria and Forum in the beautiful sunset.At the gala dinner at Italian National Olympic Committee we enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere. We finally had a chance to meet other delegates over the drinks and variety of Italian pastas which were more than delicious. We talked about conference, our speeches and ideas we will try to present at the roundtables. And this was the end of day 2.
Day 3 was a special day. The first roundtable session. I was at the roundtable 4 with a topic “Make a real difference with urban innovation and citizen’s life” reflecting on SDGs 6,7,11 and 12. Because i got my country and topic yesterday i had to do some research before the conference. I had just enough time to put together an opening speech and it was time to go. Our venue was Center for American Studies and it could be described with only one word - wow. Everyone was amazed by it’s beauty. The part I liked the most was the libraries. They were stacked with books that covered each topic you could think of. Each of them even had a cozy lounge area which added little something to them. Another interesting thing was that only our roundtable had real roundtable while others had the regular row seating.
The chairs welcomed delegates, about 45 of us, to the session and before official start we received a keynote speech from Elisabetta Kustermann, from the Italian Society for International Organisation.
And it was time to start the session. We began with opening speeches. Most of the delegates raised their placards but we also had many first timers that still weren’t ready to leave their comfort zone. But chair encouraged them to speak all throughout the session, we even head a 2 minute exercise to relax and bring the tension down. When it was my time to take the floor my fear of public speaking griped me just a bit tighter. It could be described with a verse from Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” and it goes like “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.” But somehow i managed to stay calm and finish speech without any major bloopers. We had a hard time with the wi-fi connection because more than 150 people were trying to connect at the same time which prevented me to do much needed research on my topic. But it was ok in the end, i managed somehow. European countries gather together along with European Commision and European Parliament to start drafting a working paper. But we didn’t have much time to bring it to the end because we were getting closer to the end of first session. After session few of us from hotel, later on called “the Balkan team”, decided to visit Vatican. I have a special spot in my heart for art and architecture, so i will remember this trip for a very long time. The magnificent St. Peter basilica, the frescos, sculptures, everything. Something like this can only be experienced on the premises of Vatican for sure. After this we headed back to our hotel and put the end to the day 3.
Day 4 was the day of the second and final session. Most of the day was spent in unmoderated caucuses in order to continue the work on the working papers. In the end we had 3 of them. Next task was to take those and put them together in the draft resolution. That took a more time than we expected, so when it was time to vote on it we didn’t have enough time to go over every point of the resolution. But in the roundtable 4 managed to give contribution to the ROMUN’s Youth Road Map.
After end of the session our “team” gathered again and headed to the city to see everything that Eternal city has to offer. And it has a lot. Squares, fountains, cathedrals, bridges, churches you name it - it’s there. One big disappointment was that we weren't aware that some of the well known monuments of Rome were under reconstruction. Piazza di Spagna and Fontana di Trevi were one of them. Interesting thing was that even though Fontana di Trevi was under reconstruction and there was no water at all that didn’t prevent people to close their eyes and turn around as they throw a coin for their wishes. By the end of our tour I realized that it was huge mistake that I didn’t bring sneakers with me. My feet were killing me. Actually, killing is not even a right word. But I would do it all over again. Rome is a beautiful city and it was worth of every painful step I took, because who knows when will i get another opportunity to see something like this.
Day 5 was reserved for closing ceremony. Start was scheduled for 8:30 am and no one was pleased with that because everyone was exhausted from the previous days and long sessions, so another early rise was the last thing we wanted. And to make things even better, it was Monday. Work day, rush hour. Seeing metro in this time was more like being in busy streets of Mumbai than Rome. We missed 4 trains before we managed to squeeze into the least crowded one. 2 hours later we made it to the premises of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperations where the closing ceremony took place. The Second Plenary Session started and delegates took the floor. Many of them took a chance to say their thanks to the organization committee of ROMUN and what this conference meant to them. After that it was awards time: best delegates, honorable mentions, best delegations but also the most stylish screen presence during conference and the most original screen presence. After that the closing event video “I was here” was presented which captured the most memorable moments from previous days. Video was followed by guest speakers Franco Frattini, President of SIOI, Michele Valensise, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Stephen Labensky, Cultural Attache’ to the U.S. Embassy in Rome and final presentation of the ROMUN2015 Youth Road Map.
Before Gala Dinner we had enough time to go to the Vatican again in order to see museum and Sistine Chapel, but tickets were already sold out. So, all we could do was to take another glance at the astonishing beauty of this place.
Gala Dinner was hosted at the Villa Aurelia, which has the best view of Rome. The atmosphere was relaxed, room full of laugh and you could see the new friendships being made. Delegates took a chance to remember the funniest and memorable moments from previous days over the best food and drinks that Italian cuisine has to offer. Before we knew it, the night was over and we had to say our goodbyes, and prepare for another early rise as the next day was the day for visit to EXPO Milan.
Day 6 was a long, long day. Again, we had another early start. We had to be at 7am at the train station to catch train to Milano. Most of us used those 3 hours of traveling to catch much needed sleep. When we arrived to the premises of the EXPO we were greeted by the longest waiting queue I’ve ever seen. After 45 minutes of waiting we finally entered the EXPO along with 200 000 other people. the first pavilion we visited was UN’s with theme of The Zero Hunger Challenge. Pavilion was divided into 12 different rooms: from room looking like library which meant to be a metaphor for memories, to the room dedicated to the food, animals, tools, room showing the transition from rural to industrial and the last one was representing the tons of edible food waste.
Next pavilion was the US one, but 2 hours later after UN one. So, we decided to take on the EXPO on our own and see what it has to offer. Long queues prevented us to see as much as we wanted, but it was enough. We had enough time to check out Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro. USA pavilion was very well organised as the queue moved faster than in the other pavilions. We have seen exhibition on the all American food diversity and received a speech and what it took to get started with this pavilion and what are USA’s plans for food challenges that world is facing. hour and a half before we had to leave we decided to try well-known American burgers.
And before we knew it, we found ourselves on a train back to Rome, again exhausted from a long day so it didn’t took us long to fall asleep again.When we arrived to hotel it was time to say our final goodbyes to the organizers and delegates before heading to our rooms to pack and get ready for a early flight. And that was what we did. Our hotel had nice lounge area where our Balkan team had goodbye drinks, photos and promises to stay in touch and meet again very soon!