5 DAYS IN JO'BURG

 

Ever since the very first announcement about MUN was made in assembly back in May, it was obvious it was going to be an exciting prospect. The first meeting which was basically an "interest level" meeting had about 30 interested students from across Grade 9 to 11. Although armed with limited information, 22 students signified interest to go to Johannesburg in October. Before long, summer packets were assigned to each interested student. Let's just say summer passed and school resumed and the whole work process began again. At this stage, every meeting lost a few more students due to one reason or the other. Of all these reasons, the most common was the apparently high workload although that sentiment was not shared by many other people especially those who eventually made it to Johannesburg. After a streamlining of the delegates to about 12, work started in full with delegates having to write position papers on all the issues assigned to their various committees. Position papers are a country's point of view on a particular topic. Many delegates had about 3 position papers to write over two weeks but there were a few cases were there was 4 position papers to write. Position papers were peer edited in the weekly Wednesday meetings and also edited by teacher advisors Mr. Campbell and Ms. Brown-Quilty. Meetings happened every Wednesday and the main focus of those meeting was preparing delegates towards having a stellar performance at the conference. Countdowns began low-key and various forms and letters began flying in from all angles. The forms were somewhat of a pain not just for delegates but for their parents who had to tender their signatures at least 20 times in the space of one month. The stress about forms was even more especially for students who were going to travel on their Nigerian passports. Child trafficking laws in Nigeria and South Africa meant that different consent forms and letters had to be signed with at least two visits to the embassy. Position papers were DONE (at least that was the expectation) and the most important piece of writing was next. The Resolutions. A resolution is a country's solution to the problems to be discussed. Given the level of detail and craftiness required for resolutions, the remaining time in meetings were spent crafting and editing various resolutions even though they were due the moment before we got on the plane on Wednesday, October 5. With less than 3 weeks to go everyone was earnestly looking forward to the trip but the forms wouldn't stop coming in. However, the eventual end was what delegates set their eyes on. Fast forward to a week before the trip, itineraries had been sent out, forms were done (at least so we thought), the restaurant for our first night had been picked out for the first night, delegate uniforms sent out, hosting information received, basically everything was ready. Wednesday, October 5 finally came. The wait was over, everyone had to wake up by at least 4 am to get to school by 5:30. South African Airways flight 89 was scheduled for 9:15 am that morning. Delegates arrived at the airport just before 7am and everything was going to plan at least until we were made aware of a recent immigration rule which ultimately meant that the chances of two delegates traveling was all but GONE. The remaining delegates proceeded to the check-in process while awaiting good news about our friends who were being held up. Seconds, minutes passed and then just when we were about to clear immigration, we heard the good news. All 12 of us were going to make it to Johannesburg as scheduled. Accompanied by Dr. Terry and Ms. Brown-Quilty we arrived in Johannesburg at around 4 pm South African time and we could already tell the difference. Although it was still afternoon the weather was windy, dry, and chilly just like it would be during the Abuja harmattan. The chap sticks, lip balms, Vaseline, and sweaters quickly came out and were put to good use. The immigration line was unforgivingly long as 3 other international flights arrived around the same time as we did. After about 2 hours from arrival we finally made it out, changed money, took some photos and walked outside where a bus was already waiting to take us on a one hour plus trip to our hotel. The city in itself was breathtaking literally and figuratively. It was dry, huge, well electrified and quite advanced. In essence, it wasn't the stereotype of what an African city is meant to be. We made it to the hotel after a long trip, we had missed our reservation time for dinner that night so immediately we got to the hotel we pretty much had just 10 minutes to change so we could eat that night. The walk to Billy G's at Montecasino-a buffet restaurant was not long, 5 minutes tops but the only challenging part was walking on a street in a country that drives on the "wrong" side. We however made it there and had a great time that evening. We returned to our hotel rooms tired after a really long day but ultimately most of us had to suppress our tiredness and complete whatever resolutions we had left. Thursday was a free day, at least up until 2:30 that afternoon. We used that day to visit the mall and the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg , having an equally informative and great time in the process. Time passed and it finally dawned on us that what we had been preparing for more than 3 months was upon us. The first day was scheduled for lobbying and merging-a process where individual delegates found allies for the conference proper. All delegates were hosted to a warm reception by the host school and all was set for an epic conference. The conference lasted 4 days and every minute of it was enjoyable, in fact our conference could be summed up as follows; Going to Johannesburg we did not know what to expect but we knew we were looking forward to having a great experience and all delegates can unequivocally state that we DID have a great experience. Right from the type we set foot on their magnificent campus, we were astonished. Participating in the conference proper we had nothing but positive experiences we brought back home with us. For 50% of the group basically the seniors who made it on the trip, we are happy we got this opportunity but Lowkey sad we would not be able to be a part of JOMUN next year. As a group, we however look forward to more Model United Nations conferences.

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