Our THIMUN delegation left St. Louis for the Netherlands on Friday, January 24. We will post their reports (written by faculty and students) and photos (taken by Tamar Kreitman '21) as they come in.
Shannon Koropchak (THIMUN sponsor, English)
Despite this being my fifth trip to Amsterdam, I found myself seeing it for the first time, as I always do, through the awed eyes of so many enthusiastic students. They were struck by the beauty of the architecture, the unique urban planning, the various facts about Amsterdam being 25% water, a largely bike commuter city, a city well below sea level maintained only by an intricate system of canals and pumps, and a city of the wonder that is the stroop waffle. And their enthusiasm, despite their extreme jet lag, made the day delightful. We feasted on enormous pancakes, went to the Maritime Museum to tour a ship modeled after a 17th-century East India Trading company vessel and to look at ancient maps, took a canal tour of the city, and experienced the somber and thought-provoking story and actual hiding quarters of Ann Frank and her family. It's not an easy day, by any means. But this group with its good-natured curiosity and willingness to explore whatever area they were shown reminded me why travel is such an important part of personal growth. It encourages you to appreciate the unfamiliar as an opportunity to learn, challenges you to think about your own culture as well as the one you're in, and forces you to look more carefully at your surroundings — to be present and willing to set aside your assumptions about how the world works. Needless to say, the trip is off to a good start, and I look forward to seeing what revelations and personal growth ensue within each of us this time.
Emma Petite '20
The second day in The Hague began with a stellar breakfast buffet at the hotel. We departed around 9:45 for our walking tour of The Hague. We took advantage of the public transit and all crowded into the tram. Our first stop was the Danish Parliament, which had a striking lack of security in comparison to the White House or Congress. The press team and ICJ members then departed to head over to the conference center, while the rest of us boarded the tram to Madurodam. Madurodam was created by the parents of a World War II soldier who gave his life to save his fellow prisoners of war when a bomb struck, and was then sent to a concentration camp where he died 11 weeks before liberation. He happened to be a huge fan of models, and his parents funded a scaled model of the Netherlands to be known as the happiest war memorial in his honor. Following the Madurodam, we had lunch at vegan restaurant FOAM, and then took off for the Escher museum. Arguably the coolest museum I’ve ever been to, the Escher Museum is set in Queen Emma’s former home, and is comprised of Escher’s mind-bending geometric tessellations that are designed to deceive the human eye. Particularly exciting was the photo booth with a slanted floor to make the left-most person appear taller than all others in the photo. After an hour spent there, we took the tram back to the hotel and rested up until dinner. Dinner was an Indian food buffet, with especially delicious gulab jamun as dessert. Some delegates chose to ice skate following dinner, while others returned to the hotel for a nice steam in the sauna. As this is my first time in The Hague, I’m interested in seeing how different the Qatari conference was from what I’ll experience tomorrow.
Carrie Zhang '20
The day started with an early breakfast at the hotel. Students and faculty, adorned with their nametags and lanyards, then set off to the conference by tram. When we arrived at the World Forum, students dispersed and headed to their rooms which are each named after a place depending on their location. For example, the “oceans” are on the bottom floor while the mountains sit at the top. Delegates merged and lobbied in order to create resolutions by collaborating with other students. The ICJ Members (Isa and Udonne) toured the real International Court of Justice. The press team was spotted throughout the entire conference taking photos, interviewing students and teachers, and frantically putting the newspaper together. The conference day ended with the Opening Ceremony and the finishing touches on the newspaper. Afterward, the group headed over to a nearby restaurant for bowling and dinner. To be frank, some of us are better at bowling than others. The day ended with quick trips to the pool and sauna, and the chaperones headed to the workout room. Students returned to their rooms to catch up on schoolwork, prepare for the next day, and sleep.
Nathaniel Doty '21
After my roommate (Michael Tu) and my frightful start to Monday (we woke up fifteen minutes before we had to leave), we overcompensated with an early 5:30 start followed by yet another wonderful breakfast buffet. Arriving at the conference center for the second full day, and the first day of debating, we delegates went to our separate committees and finished work on resolutions, sought approval of them from the approval panel, and began writing speeches for them. Meanwhile, the ICJ team worked diligently to interview witnesses in preparation for their trial tomorrow and the press team continued taking pictures, crafting videos, and writing stories for tomorrow’s MUNITY issue. As of writing this, both delegations have a combined ten resolutions which have been approved for debate, one of which has already passed! The day concluded with an Indonesian meal of various rice and meat dishes, as well as a delicious spicy, fried potato dish. Discussions around the dinner table were particularly interesting as we traded the day's stories (a delegate attempted to bribe me to get my spot in the long line at the approval panel) and were treated to a preview of the fascinating stories of tomorrow’s MUNITY issue. After returning from the restaurant on the tram, a contingent of us went to get ice cream and KFC.
Over the course of the past few days, I have found myself constantly comparing my knowledge of the U.S. with my experiences in the Netherlands and the experiences of other delegates from around the world. These wide-ranging conversations about everything from school to politics have further opened my eyes to other countries’ opinions of the U.S. and the variety of other lives being lived simultaneously around the globe.
Court Hyken '20
The THIMUN delegation woke up this morning in anticipation of day 3 of the conference. After enjoying our delicious breakfast, the team departed and headed to the World Forum for another day of debates. Today, in GA3 we had a heated discussion over how the United Nations could make the world of sports more eco-friendly and sustainable. The delegate of Belgium suggested that the forum paint every single piece of sports equipment, sports facility, gear and merchandise green to literally make sports green. Anna Duncan contemplated this amendment and decided that instead of painting everything green, we should paint everything white which would actually have positive effects on the environment as it would reduce the global temperature. We also had a very interesting debate on how the UN could protect cultural heritage sites and prevent further cultural appropriation. The team was dismissed from the conference at one and then we had some time to explore another beautiful city in this country, Delft. Students enjoyed walking around the square, observing the beautiful architecture, sampling cheeses and drinking coffee. We concluded our day with a traditional Dutch dinner. We feasted on tomato soup, spinach pie, goose fat wrapped veal, ham and brie salmon, and finally, we topped off the meal with a clog filled with dessert. This trip has been an incredibly unique experience for me. It is always interesting when I have the chance to meet other teenagers from around the world and hear their experiences, how they differ from mine and commonalities that we share. The opportunity to test out the French that I have been learning at school feels incredibly rewarding, although it is a stark reminder that I definitely need to keep working on it. The conference continues tomorrow, and I am looking forward to another day of debating!
Shannon Koropchak (THIMUN sponsor, English)
The last couple of days of the THIMUN trip often feel like a mad dash — a dash to get through as many resolutions as possible in each room, a dash for each of the chaperones to attempt to be in three places at once as, inevitably, multiple students simultaneously begin giving speeches, and a dash for students to soak in the last moments of the Netherlands before our Saturday morning departure. This year, though, in the midst of plenty of chaotic periods, I was particularly impressed by the calm our students demonstrated as they stood discussing their topics and explaining why they’d proposed certain solutions. They were poised, they were eloquent, and they were cool and calm even as other delegates fired random questions at them. As experts in their topics, they were able to think through tough questions on the spot. As mature, thoughtful individuals, they were willing to admit when they needed more information before answering and they invited other delegates to speak with them and submit amendments to their work to make it even stronger. They worked through frustrating moments creatively and with good humor, and they generally carried this steady, thoughtful, good cheer beyond the conference as well. Even in a pack of 37 people, we were able to run for and catch trams, navigate through the bicycle-filled streets of The Hague, Scheveningen, and Delf, and help each other and other people as necessary along the way. We ended the week with a lovely dinner on the North Sea, a ride in a ferris wheel that hung over the freezing, turbulent waters, and a terribly unpleasant foot dip in those waters. Those who chose to dip their feet in the frigid waters persevered by insisting it was “actually quite warm,” making games of the moment, and leaning on one another in competition and support. And the moment in many ways seemed to capture this team’s particularly strong qualities of camaraderie, goodwill, and determination, even as they ended the evening by dashing wildly for their warm shoes and hotel on the shore.