Webster University’s fifth edition of WebMUN in Vienna brought Laude-Reut students closer to the challenges of a complex phenomenon at the heart of our societies today: globalization. Between the 19th and 22nd of October 2018, a group of twelve 10 grade students participated alongside 100 high-school and university level students of different nationalities in some of the most heated debates on local and international matters. Not only did their skills and work as delegates contribute to their committees’ resolutions on ardent problems; they also led to a resounding success of the Laude-Reut delegation at the conference, bringing back home two Best Delegate awards out of a total seven and three Honorary Mentions.
A bit of immersion before starting their work as delegates in the United Nations Security Council, European Council and OPEC helped students go from imagining the UN environment to actually seeing it first-hand. A guided tour of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna offered by the organizers gave them a glimpse of how the institution was organized, of what it meant to work in the landmark building and to take part of scientific committee sessions. Both students’ and teachers’ curiosity and enthusiasm peaked at the sight of the lunar sample collected from the moon in the famous Apollo 15 mission, exhibited for visitors.
Yet another dose of inspiration and motivation was provided by the keynote speakers invited by Webster University for the Opening Ceremony of this year’s WebMUN. Wolfgang Fengler (Lead Economist at the World Bank), Martin Nesirky (Director of the United Nations Information Service in Vienna), Dr. Oleksandr Vasylovych (Ukraine’s Ambassador in Austria) and Joachim Honeck (International Relations Department, Webster University) have all brought arguments in favour of youth involvement in today’s social and political challenges. They showed the progress made to end extreme poverty at a global level and students were invited to monitor the process themselves online.
The three days of delegate work on some of the most pressing issues of globalization included positions and steps towards resolutions on the refugee crisis, border control and resettlement aids, peacekeeping reform and training programs, global terrorism, drug and arms trafficking across borders, all discussed in committee sessions and further negotiated by the delegates in the interconnectivity sessions. These were spiced up by both crisis scenarios and real-world news such as President Trump’s intent to withdraw the USA from the INF Treaty with Russia, of which they were informed by the Press Committee and their live news section on the conference website.
Such a dynamic political and economic landscape was met by students with flexible and creative thinking, excellent public speaking skills and interventions, collaborative strategies and effective decision-making. Their problem-solving qualities made them stand out and be highly praised by fellow delegates and committee chairs. Moreover, their responses when dealing with unforeseen crises and wild cards increased their diplomatic skills. They have learned how to formulate positions and negotiate even in times of surprising events caused by other delegates’ positions and decisions on global matters. Their breakthroughs have brought confidence and optimism in their capacity to adapt and to use their diplomatic resources to reach common agreements.
But one aspect all students and teachers had agreed upon from the start was that “all work and no play” was an undesired principle for a conference in Vienna. From the social events organized by the university where students could socialize with the other participants, the traditional foods and the less traditional gelato ice-cream in the city centre, to the fun bumper car rides in Prater, we greatly enjoyed the shared experience of Viennese walks, talks and closing party dances.
In our students own words, “Not many students have the opportunity to take a trip like this one. It lasted for five days, in which I had the chance to learn more things about my new colleagues and teachers. I’ve had the chance to visit the UN headquarters and the beautiful Vienna. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I participated in WebMUN. I was Nigeria’s delegate in the OPEC committee. I debated current issues, such as the rising oil prices and its consequences. After the hard work in my committee, I was awarded an Honorary Mention. I’ve met many new people and had interesting experiences. It was both a serious and relaxing trip.”
“WebMUN 2018 was a wonderful experience, considering that I have had the opportunity to develop and improve my public speaking skills, but also to have fun with other colleagues and meet new people. This conference made me want to participate in many other such activities, ending up being even more motivated to do so by my Honorary Mention award.”
“WebMUN was a special experience, which gave me the opportunity not only to improve my diplomatic skills, but also to make friends from all around the world, from Indonesia to Egypt and America. Although the purpose of this trip was educational, I could also relax by participating in the organized events and in the evening dinners with the teachers.”
“The WebMUN experience was a chance for me to develop both professionally, and socially. Both I and my colleagues consider that this trip has opened new opportunities to improve our diplomatic skills and to know ourselves better. The days spent in Vienna were highly interesting and I’ve had an extraordinary time.” (Rareș Bundă, 10 Real)
“The generality of the topic (globalization) at the WebMUN 2018 has been a very interesting factor, allowing each committee to pick a favourable topic everyone could contribute to.” (Ghiță Alexandru, 10 Uman)
“The WebMUN experience was beneficial, both educationally, and socially. I participated in three days of committee work, intensely debating political matters around international security. At the same time, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all around the world. To conclude, the time spent at WebMUN was profitable and pleasant. I can’t wait for next year’s edition.” (Elton Dincă, 10 Uman)
“WebMUN was my first participation in a Model United Nations. To be honest, it was at times annoying, but eventually I started to like it. I would like to participate in other MUN conferences in the future.”
“The conference in Vienna was a wonderful experience and a unique opportunity for me. In our first day there, we visited the UN headquarters, where our guide showed us many significant areas in the building. The WebMUN conference took place from the second day until the fourth. This is where I participated in a committee with rather few other delegates, which meant that we were able to debate more issues and to have the chance, each of us, to defend our positions. Aside from this activity, we have also visited the city, went in the Prater public park and participated in social events together with other delegates, moments in which we could relax after the debates. Before leaving for airport on the last day, we took a stroll around the city and did a bit of shopping. The WebMUN conference was a wonderful experience.”
Congratulations to all students for doing a fantastic job!
Prof. Adriana Mihai
Prof. Laurențiu Lambrinoc