On a breezy, cold Friday morning, six sleepy Milestone students woke up to take the earliest flight possible to London. The goal was partaking in the United Kingdom’s largest secondary school-level Model UN conference, Oxford Global 2018. With extensive preparation behind us, we had high aspirations and expectations. For some, it was their first, for others, it was their eighth. We had our tickets, luggage, music – there really was not anything left to do, besides boarding – allons-y!
Of course, the journey started months before the conference. At first, we had to ascertain exactly who would be going to the conference. A squad quickly assembled, and began preparation after using a very old, but very functional legal system – the one of calling dibs – on the committees we would chance to have a seat in. We received one seat at the Security Council, as the delegation of the United Kingdom, one in the HRC, one in the ECOFIN, one in the CSTD, one in the SPECPOL and one in the DISEC. Besides the one spot as the United Kingdom, all five others represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This made preparation very difficult, as Saudi Arabia finds itself in quite a peculiar position these days.
The delegates all did incredible amounts of research. They wrote pristine position papers which allowed them to be very well-versed in their topics. From the governance of the Internet to the Somali Civil War, everyone knew the position they had to represent. We had great brainstorming sessions in cooperation with the BerMUN delegation, which was quite enticing in its own ways.
The organisers of the conference had prepared very detailed Committee Guides which allowed all delegates to prepare extensively.
Over the weekend
We landed at Luton at around 9 o’clock. Awaiting us was fog and a very kind driver, who took us through the countryside instead of taking the motorway which was a breathtaking experience. The ambiance was great overall, and we were able to take our rooms at the time of arrival. We quickly changed and went to the Sheldonian Theatre to register our delegation and walk around before the Opening Ceremony started. After grabbing some food and taking our seats, the Secretary-General of the conference, Owen Rapaport held a great speech, followed by His Excellency, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, who shared some of his incredible life experience as a diplomat before taking questions from the floor. The opening ceremony was short, concise and set a great undertone to the conference itself.
The first session went right underway that afternoon. For almost all committees, this meant a general statement on the topic along with setting the agenda, as we all had two topics to prepare from. The first problems arose right on the first day, namely that an entire delegation did not come to the conference – the delegation of the USA, which led to almost all organs operating without the presence of one of the world leaders. Yet, we managed to find compromise and it did not hinder the flow of debate significantly.
After the session ended on the first day, we headed back to our accommodation, contemplating whether we were going to attend the Delegate Social – almost all of us did to network and enjoy themselves.
The next morning, after having breakfast, we again walked the 20-minute journey, albeit a little hasted, to the Examination Schools, where the committees themselves were situated. The first session lasted from nine in the morning until one in the afternoon, followed by a lunch break. We were, admittedly, all rather afraid of what the afternoon would bring, as it was announced that the session would last from two in the afternoon until seven in the evening, which was unprecedented for all of us. The session in the afternoon was interrupted by an invitation to see Oxford with explanation from a student living there, which made it all the more fun. We saw these by committee, not by delegation, which led to a lot of us getting to know similarly-minded students who attended the conference, not to mention seeing the most famous sights of Oxford. In the Security Council, the tension created by the United Kingdom wanting to instate a No-Fly Zone over at least some part of Somalia made the Russian delegate almost exercise his veto power over the entire resolution, to which the swift solution was bribing them with a cookie.
After returning to our committees, we finished our sessions and grouped together. Two of us, Bebe and Emma had previously chosen to attend a dinner at the Oxford Union, which they both found pleasant, while the rest of us walked around in town. Manna’s health had been deteriorating a lot at this point, which she tried to remedy with tea. The delegation was split – the people at the formal dinner hadn’t finished yet, Levente was out to meet a friend of his and the rest – Manna, Dóri and Judit stayed at the hotel conversing. We reconvened later that night and we all went to sleep at around midnight.
About the formal dinner?
Emma: We had the opportunity to enjoy a three-course dinner in the historical building of the Oxford Union. While both the food and the drinks were magnificent, the location and the echo of debates heard in the room provided an experience not replicable. We also had the opportunity to look at the yearly pictures taken of the members, and explore the building after finishing our dinner. We had the opportunity to have a long discussion with two teachers, which mostly revolved around the Hungarian education system and English boarding schools. Overall, it was an unforgettable and magical experience in the Oxford Union.
Bebe: It was superb to see the Oxford Union building from the inside, as we could really feel the ambiance of debates within. The manners of our waiters were very professional as well, which made the dinner overall very enjoyable. Discussing MUN, education with teachers from English boarding schools provided for a great time overall.
By the morning, Manna lost her voice, which led to her whispering through the entirety of the remainder of the trip. Everyone managed to pack up on time after having breakfast, and after leaving our suitcases at the hotel, we embarked on our final day at Oxford Global 2018. We were still just as excited, maybe a little less tired, and in general content with the conference.
The morning session was productive, and pretty much all committees managed to pass two resolutions – they even instated communism in the ECOFIN’s second crisis. We took our final chance to walk around the gorgeous university town before attending the closing ceremony in the Town Hall. The room was huge and filled to the brim with the delegates coming from everywhere in the world from the Far East to Israel.
The chairs of the commitees were called out in order and our small delegation of six people received three awards – Manna and Dóri received Honourable Mentions in the ECOFIN and the SPECPOL – incredible achievements considering the size of the committees – while Levente achieved the Best Delegate award in the Security Council.
Tired from the debate, we bought sandwiches and returned to our hotel, where we quickly changed, finalised packing and got into the taxi to take us to Luton. The ride to the airport this time around was via the motorway, and the humming sound of the engine got a few of us to fall asleep. We got there early, some of us ate, others had more tea to regain their ability to speak. The rest of the trip was uneventful, as we safely went through security, queued orderly to board the aircraft and flew back to Budapest. Arriving after midnight was torturous to say the least however, and left us exhausted the next morning.
All in all, Oxford Global MUN 2018 was a great time. It was very safe, we were always looked after and the organisers did everything in their power to please us. Debating with a – for us – unusal Rules of Procedure went without a hassle and the ambiance within the delegation and over the conference as a whole was incredibly wholesome. I sincerely hope Milestone can send a delegation to the next Oxford Global conference, wherever it may be held, as this was the first time it was actually held in Oxford, after having been previously held in huge metropoleis around the world.
I would also like to thank Milestone their financial support to two of the delegates to attend the conference. Without it, this incredible experience would not have been possible.