10/18/2015 07:17:00 pm

The [Model] ASEAN Experience

One word for the conference: bloody.

One word for this post: overdue.

[Sorry about that; it wasn't that I didn't have time or anything like that, instead the lack of motivation was the reason I had put off writing and posting this.]

This one is my first Model ASEAN, which is kind of different compared to Model UN because a: They didn't have resolutions, they were called chairperson's statements, and b: they needed unanimous voting for the CS to pass. ASEAN stands for Association of South East Asian Nations, is a regional union, (like the European Union, Arab League and African Union) which currently comprises of 10 member states- Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Despite the difference, I had signed up for two main reasons. I had summer break for my online school in July and August and thought could MUN when I had the time. I also wanted a challenge- a 10-country committee was different from the 25-country committee in the last MUN.

Having heard that ASEAN dynamics and other stuff were much more complicated, and how different it was compared to Model United Nations as a whole, I had approached a friend who had won BD [Best Delegate] in his ASEAN committee previously, and he helped us a lot, asking questions like why, how etc and expanding further on the topics. Even if they were slightly deeper than what we had to know.

My partner and I had spent a total of (or less than) 30 hours preparing for this conference, because we wanted to [kinda] try out this 'strategy' we were taught at a training, and also we were rather occupied with school (non-online classes) as well as other activities. Nonetheless after much discussion on both topics, we seemed to be rather confident of these two.

We had some time to lobby before the opening ceremony. From an introvert's point of view, lobbying is probably the most draining aspect of MUN. 

First impressions are apparently important. That's why you have to wear the 'I-am-so-excited-to-meet-you-omg' mask which slowly chips away each square inch of your energy, walk through people already in blocs that have already formed, smile (awkwardly) and ask people if they are in your committee, and if they are not, you still have to make some small talk, partly because you wanna seem nice, and partly because you have no one else to talk to. And most of the time, they're not in your committee. Sometimes you find someone, or if you're lucky, a couple of people who are in your committee and your 'allies', so you walk around together, and somehow sooner or later you end up being the only one again. Sometimes you find your chair is mixing in the crowd, and can't help but wonder if the chair is observing how the person lobbys, are they judging the delegates and will they take that into account when deciding on the awards?

Let me give you a tip: be yourself. You don't have to try so hard. Even if it's hard to absorb this, be yourself. We constantly tell that to others, yet we forget to remind ourselves the exact same thing. You don't have to become the 'Energizer Bunny' to socialise, just be approachable. When others approach you, have an open mindset and listen to what they say, and most likely they'll do the same.

Now, the first session was rather disappointing for me and in myself as I had occupied myself with note-taking, and had not given a speech. Around ten minutes before it ended we were already given the first crisis update, then we closed the session.

The second day was still alright. I spoke a couple of times, and somewhere in between we had to go to another room to meet two other councils for the crisis. We had only one hour (which was forty-five after the Q and A session to know more about the crisis). It was really chaotic. Imagine around 10 countries x 3 councils x pairs + one pair of +3 countries [China, Japan, Korea] in a lecture room with desks and swiveling business chairs. What made it more chaotic was that the dias had announced there would be two delegates who would get 'special award' for their performance soley in this crisis. Meaning, people would be talking loudly, trying to get others' attention, especially when the chairs (the dias, not the swiveling chairs) stood around. And we failed the crisis, because ASEAN needed unanimous voting.

That night was Socials. The organisers had booked a club in the city [I think] and had chartered buses to take the delegates to the location. I had decided to pass, using the excuse 'I'm not the partying type, I'd most probably end up reading on my phone' and also I had an informal meeting. Maybe I should have went, since I had already paid for my ticket when I registered, and also this was probably my only chance to go in a club before 18. Maybe I regretted not going a bit more, when I saw how much people seemed to enjoy themselves, in the photos later.

On the third day, because my partner couldn't be present for that session, I was left alone, and so I kind of forced myself to be part of the discussion, to speak more and lobby more. Instead of being nervous and anxious I imagined myself to be, I realised I loved it. I forgot how awesome being 'in charge' of my country and making decisions for it felt lime. This was why I liked munning, I reminded myself, not just the note taking, not just the listening, but actual speaking, debating, discussing.

This almost always happens to me- I step out of my comfort zone almost too late. It was the same for my first and second conferences, and many other activities.

When the sponsor of another bloc asked me to be the sponsor. In a rush and without thinking I uttered a 'yeah', however later I sent a note withdrawing my country's sponsorship which was left unread. That awkward moment(s) when that delegates and I just stared at each other and then trying to clarify the situtation, with the chair 'moderating' the incident, since technically 'cross talking was not in order'. This confused delegate had been flustered, but managed to clear things up.

Even by the last session, we simply couldn't pass anything because people just stuck to their stances too much and didn't want to compromise. There were two blocs, and two chairperson's statements. Both failed. So some delegates decided to merge those two documents (literally, just copy and paste and remove the repeated parts) and yet we still couldn't pass it. There were 1 (or 2) votes in favour and the rest abstained, which made the CS fail. We did, however sent in a draft resolution with three clauses. It looked something like this:
1. We decide to remain actively seized on tbis matter;
2. It was unanimously agreed that no decision was made;
3. We will reconvene at the next conference in 2016.

We didn't even get to write a joke reso because the others weren't in the mood to do so, since we didn't pass anything even after six council sessions.

After two months, I still remember something that a delegate had accused the other, "Petty, petty arguments," one had said. It was ironic, likr the pot calling the kettle black, but it got some laughs. One of the chairs had caught a delegate reading the Bible. She put his country on the almost-empty GSL [General Speakers' List] and his speech had to include what he had read. He talked about his country's opinions and started off with a quote from the Bible. It was quite entertaining, especially since his country was an Islam country. Only from that session did the tension start to lift.

The last dinner I had with my fellow delegates was surprisingly average. Instead of sitting with my partner, I went with other delegates, and another couple of people joined our table. We later went to take photos at the photobooth, which I found somewhat slightly heartening, because it turned out, I could actually make some friends. Okay.

Compared to the third experience, I didn't get such a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. It wasn't as fun. There are a lot of things I can compare with- committee bonding, committee chemistry, such and such. Maybe that was why I didn't suffer from Post Mun Syndrome like I had for the past 3 MUNs. With the last two MUNs being double-delegation, I'd like to do the next one myself.

Those people who had wanted to know the reason I signed up for this time's Model ASEAN conference and suggested to look in my blog for it, here it is. 

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