Connecting at ConnectMUN
The world is full of problems ranging from climate change, war, and terrorism. While it seems impossible to change any of these major international issues as a mere high school student attending a boarding school on an island, our societal status did not stop a group of dedicated Brentwood students from discussing, arguing, negotiating and attempting to resolve these issues last weekend. Over the weekend, the Brentwood Debate & Model United Nations Club attended ConnectMUN, a Model UN conference in downtown Vancouver. Over the course of three days, the students worked with other like-minded individuals from all over BC to come up with resolutions to pressing issues around the world. Here is a brief recap of the extraordinary weekend:
The weekend started off as students sleepily dragged their luggage to the white school bus in front of Crooks Hall. As the bus drove through the endless highway to the ferry terminal, there was noticeable excitement among the students. At around 2pm, we arrived at Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, a luxurious hotel located in downtown Vancouver. The hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver provided a nice contrast from the calm and peaceful environment of Brentwood. As we got our room keys and unloaded our luggage, the opening ceremony arrived. The opening ceremony went beyond the expectations of both teachers and students, as Jay Jansen, a Brigadier General gave his inspiring speech about the preservation of global security. After treating ourselves to a delicious dinner from restaurants that are nowhere to be seen in Mill Bay, we headed to our committee rooms to begin our first session.
The first committee session began at 8pm. As I walked into the room, I was greeted with the somewhat familiar setting of tables and placards listing off the countries within the committee. There was a total of 14 different committees, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, United Nations Security Council, and the World Health Assembly, all specializing in different issues around the world. Personally, I was a part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where delegates represent the heads of government of their respective nation, discussing a range of topics from combatting the growth of extremism, to the implementation of renewable energy.
Time flew by as we discussed and passed one resolution after another on the topic of preservation of marine life. Passionate and talented students from all over BC advocated or disputed every given topic to their best, and the debate was of high quality, despite the fact that there were many young students freshly entering high school. By the time our first committee session ended at 10:30 pm, we were all exhausted and ready to get some rest to prepare for the next day, which included four 2-hour committee sessions and a delegate social.
The second day of the conference was even more action packed and exciting than the first. The first committee session started at 8:30 am; I could not have been more exhausted. After 5 hours of travelling, 2 hours of intense debating, and an unfortunate 1-am fire alarm that forced everyone out of their beds the night before, I was ready to fall asleep in the elevator as I headed downstairs for the committee session. As I entered the committee room, to my surprise, people were even more excited and energetic than the night before. Refreshed by the enthusiasm, I intently discussed potential solutions to the growth of extremism around the world. Committee session after committee session, the delegates showed impressive focus, courage, intellect, and composure. As the day drew to a close after the delegate social, where we were given the opportunity to participate in an escape room.
The last committee session of the last day began even earlier the next day, at 8:00 am. As the final 4-hour committee session proceeded, the delegates showed the same level of focus and enthusiasm as the first. After four long hours, the committee sessions finally came to an end. The closing ceremony was heartfelt, as the directors of each committee shared their experience and gratitude for the delegates whom they had spent the last three days with. As awards for the top three delegates of each committee were handed out, the teachers and the students began to make their leaves back to their normal lives.
The Brentwood students grabbed their luggage and headed outside, where a luxurious limousine with disco lights was waiting to pick us up as a final treat for the effort that we had put in the last few days. After another trip of 4 hours, we were finally back home, exhausted, yet gratified to have gone through such a rewarding experience. It is conferences like these that re-spark my interest in global affairs, even after over five years of doing the same things. I was able to learn that there are, in fact, solutions to the problems of the world. I learned that compromise and negotiation is the key to come to a favorable resolution. But most importantly, I learned that even as a high school student attending a boarding school in an island, no issue is too big or too out of reach to discuss, dispute, and resolve.
Marc Y, Rogers ‘19