By: Isabelle Canaan, 11th Grade
On November 16th, we rolled our suitcases out of the front lobby, destination: Berlin. Our five-day trip would take us miles from GFA, dropping us right in the middle of an amazing city where the opportunities to exercise our diplomatic skills, meet interesting people and have fun were endless.
The object of our trip was participation in the Berlin Model United Nations (BERMUN), a completely student-run conference held at the John F. Kennedy German-American School in Zehlendorf. The conference attracted schools from over fifty different nations and featured over twenty different guest speakers from the American embassy, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and non-profit organizations. From November 17th to November 20th, our group was no longer a bunch of American high schoolers, but an important component in achieving world stability and global solutions. Our group was assigned the country of Colombia, and we sent delegates to the Political Committee, Environmental Committee, Disarmament Committee, Human Rights Committee, and Special Conference.
The over-reaching topic of the conference was “Combating Illicit Trade: A Civic Responsibility,” but was applied to many sub-topics that fit under the jurisdiction of committees specializing in political, nuclear, environmental or human rights areas. Not only did the topic challenge us to reach compromises and find solutions to stop illegal trade in our specific areas, but also challenged us to look at illicit trade as a civic responsibility that all people can work towards stopping.
What made Berlin memorable was the completely student-run aspect of the conference, the amazing environment the school was in and the international environment. A two-to-three person chair monitored debate, kept the delegates on topic and organized and produced all of the information packets and guest in all conferences. These chairs were run completely by JFK Schoolstudents or students from abroad. For example, in my committee, two of my three chairs were from the JFK School and the other was from Korea. These heads had to stay after, organizing the next day’s schedule, make speeches, invite visiting speakers and fund the conference. It was amazing to watch students right around my age leading such a massive conference, making the whole experience very relatable since I could see myself in their positions.
Berlin was the perfect backdrop for the conference. Striped with remnants of the Berlin Wall, and filled with historical importance and interest, the city of Berlin proved to be one of the most memorable parts of the trip. The efficient bus and subway system allowed us to travel to and from the conference, our homestays, and different parts of the city with ease and the modern gems hidden behind historical significance let us diffuse our stress and energy from the conference. It was an unbelievable place to work, travel in, and get to know and gave this conference memorable individuality.
Through traveling to Berlin, our club acted on the message of the World Perspectives Program by spreading the name of the school and looking at the world through another country’s lens. We experienced diplomacy in a new country, cooperated with language and culture barriers, and figured out solutions to a massive world problem. This was an unforgettable experience that further sparked our interest in international relations and allowed us to grow as a club and a school.