This article was provided by Kefhira Pintos, Director of UN Children’s Fund at HNMUN-LA 2013.
Having never participated in an international MUN conference nor directed in one either, I didn’t know what to expect at the inaugural Harvard National Model United Nations Latin America (HNMUN-LA) 2012 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Up until January 17th, 2012, I had only participated in local conferences with my high school and staffed one college conference – Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) 2011. But when I finally arrived in Buenos Aires and I saw delegates start to arrive at the hotel, all my worries washed away. The conference was unlike any other that I had participated in because of its focus on culture, small committee size, and sheer enthusiasm of all the nationalities coming together.
Unlike other conferences where you are in committee all day, HNMUN-LA wants you to get to know your host city. After all, many delegates have travelled across the globe to engage in debate and explore a new environment. The social events were unlike any I had experienced. With our delegates, we learned how to tango, we mingled over Malbec wine, and we gossiped about the day’s sessions over world-class steaks. The delegates, as well as the staff, got to experience the nightlife, the monuments, and the spirit that makes Buenos Aires one of the world’s top destinations.
HNMUN-LA’s size was truly one of its biggest strengths. Everyone left with at least one new friend, or a travel buddy with whom to explore the city. I know I did. For example, one of my Assistant Directors, a medical school student in Argentina from Germany introduced me to the food truck scene in Buenos Aires, and we would wander out to find new ones after every committee session. With committees ranging from 30-50 delegates each, everyone got to know each other both as delegates and as people. Committees interacted freely during social events and the staff bonded with the delegates.
Lastly, the enthusiasm of the HNMUN-LA delegates was unparalleled to what I have seen to date in other conferences. Delegates were energized by smaller committees, by getting feedback on their presentations, and by finally having an international conference in the region. They were excited for afternoon sessions and challenging themselves on an international scale, bringing in their personal experiences to debate current policy and create new ideas.
As MUN enthusiasts, we research, think about, and debate international issues. Yet, the experience of actually travelling to a different country to engage with a different set of cultures and become immersed in a foreign environment adds a completely new dimension to the MUN experience. Conferences like HNMUN-LA bring people from all over the world together. The staff and organizers believe in excellence, and their efforts were all realized in HNMUNLA 2012. HNMUNLA 2013, to be held in Brasília, Brazil stands to exceed the high bar that was already set for it. There are less than two weeks to register. I hope to see you in Brasìlia!