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Blurring Borders.

Students of Indian School Ghubra represented Oman at the 60th Harvard Model United Nations session in Boston

Put children to a task and they'll show you how it's done better than adults. More than 3,000 delegates from 38 countries came together for the 60th session of the Harvard Model United Nations (MUN) in Boston earlier this month.

Many students of the Indian School Ghubra (ISG) delegation have participated in MUNs held at schools in India. But being at the Harvard MUN in Boston - considered the most prominent - was

an unparalleled experience for the 19 students. Accompanying them on the ten-day trip was faculty member Maleka Ariwala. "The secretary-general told me Omanis being represented in Boston for the first time," she said.

The 11th graders are in awe of the sheer scale of the event. The ISG delegates had their country, Denmark, allotted to them last October. Mock debates were managed in between daily classes before the big day arrived. As for jet-lag? "No way," they said in unison. "We were too excited," said Sharan Suresh who was part of the legal committee with Anoop Mathew. Attending MUN has helped reinforce Anoop's dream to become an IFS (Indian Foreign Services) officer.

Shreyas D'Mello seemed uneasy as Maleka informed us that he won the title of Best Opposing Delegate. "Yes, I, kind of, won," he mumbled. "At MUN, you cannot afford to be modest," said Maleka. "You have to speak up and I've seen him do it."

The team chose to observe the proceedings on the first day. "There were delegates from other countries who had attended close to 17 Harvard MUNs, whereas we had attended a few sessions at the country level. But it's all about speaking up," Sonin Santhosh said as Komal Gollapilli added, "When you are making yourself heard, it boosts your confidence."

Speaking for her teammates, many of whom were taking practical exams when TheWeek visited ISG, Rucha Kulkarni said the trip opened their eyes to the rest of the world and its many cultures. "We thought the kids from the other countries would treat us differen-tly but we got talking in no time," said Vahuka Qais who was in the NGO committee.

She was thrilled that the committee raised more than US$10,000 in funds by selling Harvard merchandise and organising events for Charity Water - an NGO which funds clean water projects. "We shared a bus with the Pakistani delegates. It was a lot of fun. We are so similar," Sharan observed. "I wondered why the countries even had to be divided," Abhiit Pandit wondered aloud.

Abhijit is considering a career in journalism. His efforts in singlehandedly managing the Press Corps was recognised by the chair. The delegates were role-playing but the topics discussed are of utmost relevance. From debating if the US was training the Syrian army to war ethics of drones to the global oil crisis, there was little left uncovered.Priyanka Vedula, the only tenth grader in the delegation, has her boards in a month but she left her books behind for a fuller experience at the MUN.

But it wasn't all work for these young go-getters. Mention of the delegates' dance prompted blus-hes and giggles. For many, the trip to the US was also a first. The tour of the UN headquarters remains the highlight among trips to Washington DC and New York via tours arranged by Harvard. Many of them confessed to falling asleep while watching the Broadway musical Phantom of The Opera but they were taken in by The Freedom Trail in Boston.

"The whole experience was so good that we were hoping for a delay, like a blizzard, which would keep us in Boston," said Anindita Purohit of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. What they would love to achieve now is their own international MUN at ISG. "We plan on having one. But the details have to be worked out," said Papri Ghosh, principal, beaming with pride at her students. Their final term exams are almost here, but right now, they are on a post MUN high.

Apex Press and Publishing

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Feb 20, 2013
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