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Students Bond at BEIMUN XVII

April, 2010
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The world stood before me as I addressed the General Assembly at BEIMUN (Beijing Model United Nations) XVII. Representing the Oman delegation I read my opening speech, explaining the policies to resettle refugees in areas of conflict. As I spoke, I felt the power of the microphone. My own voice was projected out to the 182 or so country delegates that were seated across the hall. Inspired by the moment, I was determined to use my voice to protect the interests of the voiceless and powerless.

“Delegates voting for this resolution; please raise your placard” the Chair addressed my resolution as I nervously gazed across the hall. The voting procedure on our team’s resolution had begun. Placards were raised in the air – will it be enough to pass the resolution? After what seemed like forever, the votes were counted.

“Delegates voting against this resolution; please raise your placard…”the Chair firmly called again. Oceans of placards were seen up in the air. My stomach turned, and I panicked.

“With 65 voting in favour, 67 voting against, and 50 abstaining, this resolution has failed,” the Chair read. With a close gap of two more votes against than for, my groups’ resolution had failed.

helen-l-2Burning with despair, a motion to revote was recognized by the Chair. And…? The votes for the resolution outweighed the number of votes against! I leaped with joy, fired with excitement and glory. With a smug look on my face, I gazed across the oceans of delegates in search of the familiar faces of my co-submitters. I found identical joy on their faces as I had on mine.

The structure of the General Assembly allows every nation, regardless of its wealth or size, to represent one voice and one vote. It is not about what the United States or China has to say. Instead, it is about what global humanity seeks. Seeing the delegate of Indonesia firmly calling for the prevention on the rapid spread of disease, and the delegate of Zimbabwe putting forward a resolution to combat child labor – we search for a common goal.

By promoting discussions and peace talks, it creates a platform for countries to better understand each other’s perspectives and interests. Passing a resolution is not about  fighting against each other on who can create the better resolution. Instead, it’s about working collaboratively towards a mutually agreed policy. Working with others is a valuable life lesson in itself.

Another eye-opening asset that BEIMUN has provided me with was the opportunity to connect and bond with passionate and global-minded students around the world. In BEIMUN, I found my “niche” of friends. Some say international students are “third-culture kids” that do not belong to any culture. But we are unique. We create our own culture. We would spend an excessive amount of time introducing ourselves. “I am half French and half Korean. I was born in France but I currently live in Singapore. I speak fluent Korean, Chinese, and English” would be a standard answer. We would all nod along, amazed at her culturally diverse background. But at the same time, we would connect and exchange knowing glances as we all share similar experiences.helen-l-1

The positive vibe and excessive amount of energy shown by new BEIMUN friends influenced me. In an attempt to keep up with them, I was forced to bring out more enthusiasm than I ever thought I had. As we shared stories of our school life, chatted about the charming delegate across the room, and discussed global issues, I realized that we were learning so much from each other. We tread the same paths in so many ways. It felt as if I have known these people my whole life. Alyssa Barone, a senior from Norwalk High School in the US, told me “I realized I was living in a bubble in the US” after her first trip out of the country to China. BEIMUN has proved to be an inspirational experience for everyone. “Meeting accomplished students that have lived all around the world was very exciting. I was also shocked to see how HUGE the city was. And it was amazing to see a mixture of historical culture placed alongside technological advancement,” she added.

After voting on our formal resolutions, we decided to vote on our informal superlatives – nominating categories and delegates best suited for each winning category. The categories included “Funniest”, “Most attractive voice”, “Sleepiest”, “Best accent”, “Most flirtatious” - and delegates taking on the chance to exercise their boundaries of creativity, decided to create categories such as “Most likely to be yelled at by Chairs” and “Delegate with the weakest bladder” - the one who took the most bathroom breaks. As the nominees approached the floor, most delegates were humiliated but found it funny.

The inappropriate BEIMUN notes confiscated by the chairs were broadcast out. (Official notes are passed as diplomatic written dialogue between delegates during the United Nations General Assembly debate) The infamous delegate for Slovenia, Julian Rosales, was utterly humiliated when his flirtatious note to the delegate of Vietnam was read before the entire crowd. One classic example of his note simply read:

Do you like beef?


“I sent it to Katie Pachkovsky because she was cool and I like beef. They always run out of meaty sandwiches because I come out late from the sessions,” he justifies. When winning the “Most flirtatious” award, his pick up line to the audience was “Would you like to have lunch and eat beef with me some time?” This made the entire GA roar with laughter.

When the delegate of Sierra Leone brought up a sensitive issue, suggesting a certain “Flying Spaghetti Monster” religion is associated with violence, Rosales immediately took the floor claiming “This delegate is a firm believer of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’, and believes all people have the right to freely practice their own religion.” Moved by the laughter created amongst the General Assembly, he then accidentally said “This delegate yields the chair to the floor” instead of the other way round.

Throughout the conference, Julian managed to challenge delegates with clever analogies and smart comebacks. His intelligence and swiftness impressed many delegates. 

Strongly believing in the importance of revitalizing the element of fun with more serious matters, Julian believes making a few witty jokes makes the MUN “more accessible and understandable to people our age.”

Danielle Lay, a Taiwanese sophomore from the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, loved BEIMUN so much that she accidentally addressed herself in the third person, saying “this delegate believes…” in English class on the first day back in school after the conference. “It was so embarrassing!” she laughed.

helen-l“Delegates voting in favour of this resolution; please raise your placard,” the voice in my head called once again. I raised my placard, this time not to pass a resolution in protecting refugees, but to pass my personal resolution. As I envisioned my placard high up in the air, I raised my determination; I dared myself to dream big…


By Helen Leung


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  1. December 9th, 2011 at 18:28 | #1

    Dear Helen,

    thank you for your article. I exactly know what you mean about dreaming big. I participated in Beimun for three years and I really wished that I could have stayed on for longer.

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