From the thousands of roses, turtles, and t-shirts to the 12-year-old observer turned Security Council crisis staffer, ILMUNC China 2012 was a unique and chaotic experience. Held in Shanghai between March 1st and 4th, the conference was the first entry in what could become an annual Penn presence on the international high school MUN circuit. The Secretary-General of the conference was Brittany Elliot, a recent graduate of Penn who is now working for WEMUN, an international relations and MUN organization in China. Penn’s delegation was led by Director-General Alice Xie and consisted of Mark Vessalico, Sasha Huynh, Varun Arte, Jeffery Nadel, Stephanie Vabre, and Alex Haber.
As it was the first time this conference was being held, six of the seven committees were GAs or ECOSOCs, and many of the delegates were first time participants. Nonetheless, ILMUNC China was a meaningful large-scale forum in which high school students from all over China came together to analyse the pressing international issues of today. In a country where discourse and debate are hard to come by, an opportunity like ILMUNC China can significantly broaden the horizons of the Chinese college student of tomorrow. As this is all taking place through the medium of a U.N. simulation, these Chinese high school students are also exposed to more cooperative international diplomatic principles that the state by and large seems to shun. Along with the myriad of other MUN conferences and events, ILMUNC China may thus help to bring about a more fundamental shift in Chinese social mentality with regards to the importance of international politics.
Beyond the possible social fabric altering elements of ILMUNC China, the conference also brought Chairs, ADs, and delegates into contact with good old-fashioned MUN chaos. From the confused delegates who adamantly refused to budge on supporting repatriation of honour killing victims to chairs accidentally giving their own gavels to best delegates, ILMUNC China managed to give plenty of those double-take moments that make a conference memorable.
ILMUNC China 2012 was a merging of MUN and international relations with Chinese cultural nuance. From the overarching conference management that integrated local WEMUN staff with Penn chairs to the mix of delegates possessing different levels of English, ILMUNC China was itself a symbol of the diplomacy and compromise talked of throughout the conference. With a bit of luck, ILMUN China will become a staple of the international high school circuit and many a future group of Penn students will have the opportunity to play “cultural” dice games to a backdrop of backstreet boys karaoke.