by Lucy Gretsky
An early 5:15 wake up to make the 6 a.m. bus to Hershey, PA. That’s what I’ve chosen to do for the past two years on the first Friday after winter break.
There are a lot of high school students who would look at my three months of optional research and writing for the Model United Nations (MUN) conference with a disgusted face. Who would put in months of work writing a country research paper in addition to the homework they’re already assigned in school? Why would you put in so much work into something that you really don’t need to do?
The answer is simple: It’s for the experience. I must admit, I only started to take part in the program because MUN looks good on college applications. But I came back for an entirely different reason.
It’s the people who have made this experience so memorable. There are so many people with different backgrounds and different experiences and different ideals who come together and try to resolve the major issues that plague our world today.
Everyone is excited to be there and they encourage one another to step up and state how the country they’re representing would respond to the issues at hand.
It continues to amaze me that people as young as 14 to 18 come together and talk about serious issues like human trafficking and water security, and are able to do this with such poise and sophistication. We work on solving issues that the actual United Nations works on resolving, and to me, this is an amazing experience that everyone should take advantage of.
There is a two-hour relaxation period on Saturday night where all of the participants (delegates) come together for either a dance, a movie, a football game, or a friendly game of Cards Against Humanity. It’s one of my favorite parts of conference since we all get to ditch our blazers and wear what we want and get to know each other in a less formal way.
I still don’t know how to fully answer why I do this. My first year at MUN, there was a bomb threat on the first day and we were on lockdown for what felt like hours. Saturday night was even worse when a mosh pit that my friend and I started ended with a boy seizing in the middle of the dance floor. After that incident, all I wished for was to be anywhere but Hershey. Having had accidently seen someone die from a seizure when I was seven, this encounter really freaked me out. I can still remember the blood draining from my face. I can still see the goosebumps running up my arms. I can still feel my body trying to resist the shaking.
But there were people who stayed with me and comforted me the rest of the night. I never imagined that I would go back, but a year later, I found myself on the dance floor battling with two random delegates from DE. The compassion and genuine friendliness that everyone showed to one another is what urged me to come back this year. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
The worst part of this year’s conference was that I was so ill that I had to leave committee and sit with the nurse for an hour. I hated the fact that I felt too sick that I couldn’t stay and debate on my committee topics. I had put so much work into my research that it felt like I was just throwing it all away. I was just happy that I felt better in time for the next committee session.
The food is terrible, the rooms are dusty and uncomfortable, and you get approximately eight hours of sleep within all three days of conference. Yet I have loved every second of it. MUN has given me so much: confidence in public speaking, great friends, and a new perspective on our world.