by Tayte Gossling, Grade 10
Last week, 16 SMUS students travelled to Ottawa and Montreal, under the supervision of Mr. Goodman and Ms. Knight, for the Secondary Schools Model United Nations Symposium. We’ve spent the past month prepping for the conference, researching our topics and their relationships to our countries, writing position papers, and reviewing general conference procedures. When we got on the bus to leave for the airport, I’m not sure that any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into. Although some of the students on the trip had attended this conference before, many of us, including myself, had never been to a conference this big — there were approximately 1,200 other student delegates!
Our first stop was Ottawa. We arrived at around 1 a.m., and found ourselves taking a bus to our hotel in the middle of the night. While in the nation’s capital, we visited the Parliament Buildings, the Supreme Court, the Canadian War Museum and attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11. We also got time to explore the city, try some local cuisine and our group challenged ourselves to an escape room game. Even though only one group managed to escape in the time limit, being locked in a room together for an hour and trying to work together to escape was a great way to bond with each other, as well as work on our communication skills.
When we took the train to Montreal we could not have been more excited for the conference to start. As well, the idea of getting to spend four days in the gorgeous province of Quebec was extremely appealing. On our first day in Montreal, we took a walking tour through Old Montreal and attended the conference’s opening ceremonies. It was extremely overwhelming to be in a room with 1,200-plus like-minded people, who were all there because they, too, have a love of public speaking and social issues and want to make a difference in the world.
I attended the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, representing the country of Hungary. Hungary was a really interesting country to represent, as it is usually not greatly affected by natural disasters. I proposed plans to aid other countries, which was still highly productive. I met some fantastic people at the conference, with whom I’m sure I’ll keep in touch for a long time. Getting to talk to people from so many places about so many things — from foreign policy to pocket squares — was an incredible opportunity, and hearing so many different opinions was truly eye-opening.
Although the conference had to end, I know that some of the memories and friends I made will stick with me for a long time to come. I absolutely cannot wait for next year’s conference!
(photos by Tony Goodman and Kate Knight)