Our UNA-NATO Travel Team has come back from a successful trip to Washington, D.C. We left Wednesday Feb. 16th on the overnight train down to Washington. The overnight train is always an experience, this time it included a pretty entertaining group traveling south – who came on board with their own fried chicken ready to go.
Once we got to D.C. we made our way over to the hotel to prepare for our Embassy visits. Our team went to two different Embassies – the Hungarian Embassy and the Belgium Embassy. I went to the Hungarian Embassy along with the rest of the Hungarian Delegation – we were met by a very friendly diplomat in charge of Political Affairs. She had actually done Model NATO when she was pursuing her advanced degree – so she gave us tons of information that we needed to know for conference. It was really interesting hearing all your research confirmed by a diplomat of the country you are representing!
Later that afternoon, while enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny weather in D.C., we made our way over to Opening Ceremonies. There we were addressed by Mr. Jonathan Parish, a Senior Policy Planning Officer and Speechwriter from NATO Headquarters in Belgium. He gave us insight on a wide range of policy issues and set an insightful tone for the rest of the conference.
After an overnight train, an embassy visit and a whole afternoon of opening ceremonies the team headed back to the hotel ready to check into our rooms and relax before conference started on Friday.
Friday and Saturday flew by, as most conference debate sessions do. A lot of high quality debate and resolution writing took place. Our Belgian and Hungarian delegates quickly became leaders in their committee rooms, actively pushing debate forward and engaging in the resolution writing. Our debate time ended in the mid-afternoon on Saturday, which gave our team time to explore D.C. – some people had never been to D.C. before so they went to explore the monuments, others stayed around the hotel. The whole afternoon was marked by extremely windy weather – one weather report said that winds were got up to 40mph!
On Sunday morning we had our most intense debate session, the final committee session. In Model NATO during the final committee session only one member of the delegation is sitting at the table, while the rest of the team runs around making behind the scenes deals. Debate progresses at a rate that is difficult to describe, and in general the whole session can be best described as organized chaos. But in this running around you get to see how the real system works, with the Ambassador sitting at the table and staff swirling around them. After this final debate session ended we went into the Awards Ceremony, and we did very well! Our Belgian Delegation received Outstanding Delegation, and our Hungarian Delegation received an Honorable Mention – and the took several individual awards as well.
On Sunday afternoon we flew back to Boston, and while waiting at the airport we debriefed on our performance. We even had time to enjoy some Five Guys Burgers before boarding our plane!
We made it safely back to Boston – and overall it was a successful trip!