We Have Attended Harvard MUN For the Second Time ⋅ Modafen

We Have Attended Harvard MUN For the Second Time

We are proud to have attended Harvard MUN for the second time between 27th January and 5th February 2014. After a semester of hard work, our 23 students and our English teachers, Kurtuluş Akyüz and Mengihan Vefalı, set off to the United States of America.

After the long flight, our MUN team checked-in at the Boston Sheraton Hotel and attended the “Welcome Dinner” in the evening. Before the MUN conferences, our students watched Boston Red Sox baseball game in Fenway Park. Then, they visited the Freedom Trail where historical buildings align. They also got the chance to watch an NBA game between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at the TD Gardens.

Harvard MUN 2014 started on Thursday with the opening ceremony. 3200 students from 38 different countries debated on different subjects such as piracy in African waters, digitization of labour, nuclear globalism, illegal organ trade, women’s right in the Arab world, and global emerging middle class. During the conference, each student represented a country other than their own. Our students represented Algeria and Liechtenstein.

All the students generated projects and expressed their opinions on a better future, world peace and equality. One of the best aspects of Harvard MUN for our students was to experience many different cultures. Our students, who made friends with students all around the world, not only got the chance to learn about their culture but also used English actively.

On the closing day of the Harvard MUN, resolutions were submitted to the conference hall and everyone wished to meet again next year. After the intense agenda of the final day, our students went to TGI Fridays for dinner and to watch the Super Bowl.

Harvard MUN 2014 Team

Kurtuluş Akyüz – English Teacher
Mengihan Vefalı – English Teacher

Hazal Akman
Lara Ürkün
Berkay Gümüşgerdan
Cengizhan Kuşcu
Mustafa Hakan Yağlı
Oğul Süleyman Berkel
Sare Akyüz
Mahmut Oğuzhan Bıçakcı
Ada Yarar
Azra Ural
Selin Ilgın Zor
Ceysi Behar
Girayhan Yergök
Lal Gödekli
Anıl Öner
Boğaç Ural
Mert Şahin
Mustafa Alikişioğlu
Atahan Açık
Koray Tezcanlı
Bora Özügüzel
Murat Tumay

Harvard Diaries:

Monday 27th January 2014

The day had finally arrived. We were due to leave for Harvard Model United Nations 2014 at 06.25 on Monday morning. We had arranged to meet at Ataturk Airport at 04.00 and when we got there it seemed that everyone else in Istanbul had made the same plans, as the airport entrance was packed. After fighting our way through the first security check leading into the airport, we soon gathered together at the Air Paris check-in and started checking-in.

Everyone looked tired due to the early meet. The students were all really excited by the adventure awaiting them whereas the parents looked on nervously at the prospect of being separated from the children for the next 9 days. As we passed security control leading to the flight gates, final waves were exchanged and kisses blown. And so it started…

The first leg of our trip was to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, where we would be stopping over before continuing onto Boston, USA. The flight was just over 3 hours long and passed uneventfully. Everybody was sitting together on the plane and the buzz from the airport continued onto the plane until take off, at which time a lot of the students crashed out, exhausted from their early wake-up call or the fact that they had not slept the night before, in anticipation of the days ahead.

Landing in Paris, we had a long 7 hour wait in front of us as our flight to Boston was not until 16.10, local time. We had breakfast together before the students started to explore the airport. Some decided to start their duty free shopping early, whilst others went to the lounge to relax and catch up on sleep. Finally, the time came and we boarded our Boston flight.

The flight to Boston with Air France took around 8 hours. The plane was completely full and students were scattered around the plane. We had discussed not sleeping on the plane in order to avoid the effects of jet-lag but unfortunately some of us couldn’t resist and fell asleep as soon as we sat in our seats. As the flight neared its end, the buzz of the students started again and the plane landed around 18.30, local time.

Upon arrival, we passed customs uneventfully and were greeted in the arrivals lounge by our enthusiastic van shuttle service agent, who took us to the 3 waiting vans (minibuses) that we had arranged to take us to the hotel. Arriving at the Sheraton Hotel, we quickly checked in, put our luggage into our rooms and moved back down to the lobby in order to start exploring Boston.

We walked from the hotel to the Prudential Mall via a connecting inside route and then ventured out into the freezing Boston air. It was apparent that we were in no fit state to walk around Boston at this late hour so we quickly found a local restaurant and dived into the warmth. Everyone was starving after the long trip so you can imagine the scene at the restaurant as plates and plates of food arrived at the tables. The waiters couldn’t believe their eyes as to how much food our children were eating!! Obviously they said that we were welcome back any time.

After finishing our late dinner, we quickly walked back to our hotel and everyone returned to their rooms exhausted, ready to catch up on much needed sleep.

Tuesday 28th January 2014

We met in the lobby at 10.00, after breakfast, and left promptly to brave the ongoing freezing conditions outside. Our plan today was to go to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. After a long, brisk walk, we arrived at our destination and the children scrambled into the memorabilia shop to escape from the cold. Many bought souvenirs whilst others were happy just to be out of the cold.

Leaving the stadium, we started walking back towards our hotel, until we got to the Boston “Cadde”. The children were let loose and frantically started running around, up and down the street, trying to get into as many shops as possible before returning to the hotel exhausted.

With the tiredness and excitement of the last couple of days, it was agreed that we would relax that evening and everyone was allowed to decide how they wanted to spend their own time. Some continued shopping in the warmth of the mall whilst others preferred the warmth of their beds. However, very quickly, everyone had decided that they had had enough and returned to their rooms in preparation for another exciting day that awaited us.

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Our planned meet on Wednesday morning was 11.00, giving everybody enough time to cater for their own breakfast and stock up on energy for another long day outside in the Boston cold. The weather had warmed up a little and was now -10C instead of -11C the day before.

We started walking towards “Downtown” to our destination which was the Freedom Trail, a route of historical and interesting buildings in Boston. Walking up “Cadde” and through the park, where the lake had frozen due to the freezing conditions, so much so that there was an ice-skating activity on it, we encountered the numerous buildings on the Trail. For the children, the highlight of the walk was seeing the numerous squirrels in the park as well as the crazy woman in the park who started screaming at us for no apparent reason other than the fact that we were there!! It became apparent that locals received similar attention from her so we did not take her ranting personally.

Finally, we reached our intended destination at the end of the Freedom Trail, arriving at Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, two historical buildings dating from the 1800s. The children were given free time to explore the area, have lunch and do shopping, as required, before meeting back at the hotel.

Assembling in the hotel lobby at 17.30, our next planned activity was to visit the TD Gardens, home of Boston Celtics NBA basketball team. The Boston Celtics were playing against the Philadelphia 76ers. The game was due to start at 19.30 so we arrived in plenty time and made use of this time with more merchandise shopping. After all of the usual American razzmatazz and pre-game entertainment, the game finally started.

The contest started slowly and our students took the opportunity to take pictures with the male and female cheerleaders who were cheering the crowd from a position near to where we were sitting. As the game continued, the lead changed hands on several occasions as neither team could take an advantage in the game. An amazing finish saw the 76ers win by 1 point with a basket in the last second after the Celtics had missed a similar opportunity moments before. You can imagine the anti-climax for the large number of Celtics home fans when, what looked like being an exciting victory, ended in a disappointing loss.

We fought our way out of the arena along with 17,000 other spectators and ended up outside in the freezing cold. Some students were tired after the long day, whilst others were still high after the game and wanted to go to Hard Rock Café for something to eat. Those that wanted to return to the hotel jumped into cabs and went back to their rooms whilst 10 of us braved the Arctic-like conditions to walk/run to the restaurant in an attempt to get out of the bitter cold.

The trip to the restaurant was well worth it for those of us that made it as the food was tasty and more memorabilia was purchased. Like many of the other places that we had visited in the first few days, we were told that we were welcome back at any time. Leaving the restaurant, we quickly jumped into some cabs and returned to our hotel to end another great day.

Thursday 30th January 2014

HMUN2014 was due to start today. We decided to meet in the lobby at midday to give enough time for everyone to have a little lie-in, a comfortable breakfast, as well as to dress in outfits that some were wearing for the first time in their lives. Our students helped each other with some ironing shirts and tying ties for others, as these were alien skills for many of our students.

As I reached the lobby I was amazed by the view that was waiting for me. Our students were all dressed in their suits and ties, smart dresses and skirt suits. As you can imagine, I am not used to this sight at school and couldn’t believe how good our children looked in their smart outfits.

We quickly registered and everybody took their necessary information before heading off to take part in two training sessions, whilst the faculty advisors had meetings about the schedule for the next four days. After the training sessions, we met again and made our way to the Opening Ceremony to listen to several interesting speeches as well as a fantastic performance by the Harvard Veritones, one of Harvard College’s premier co-ed a cappella groups.

The first sessions of the conference were due in the evening, starting at 19.30, so we had something to eat after the Opening Ceremony before going to our committee rooms to start four days of interesting debate.

Our students left the session at around 23.00 and returned to their rooms, excited but exhausted from the first day’s activity. Many of them fell asleep straight away as others stayed awake with the buzz that was continuing after their conference. However, they soon crashed out, and fell asleep ahead of another early start on Friday morning.

Friday 31st January 2014

The actual HMUN2014 Conference is taking place at the Sheraton Hotel as there are over 3200 students from 38 countries around the World taking part in this immense event. As the semester is still continuing at Harvard University at the moment, there would not be enough space to cater for such a huge event at the same time as the regular students continuing their studies. Today was the day that we were going to the Harvard University Campus to experience that atmosphere for ourselves.

After meeting at 09.00 in the lobby, we quickly departed by taxi to Harvard Square where the campus is located. The students were amazed by the setting of the campus and the impressive buildings that were scattered around. Luckily the weather was a lot warmer than the previous days so it was not too much of a chore to casually stroll around the campus taking in the atmosphere as you went along.

As always, the children wanted souvenirs and therefore we made our way to the Harvard University Coop which is a huge store selling Harvard logoed goods and memorabilia. The children wasted no time in making their purchases before returning to the hotel to prepare for the upcoming committee sessions.

There were two sessions scheduled for today at 14.30 until 18.00 and at 19.30 until 23.30. After an exhausting day, our students returned to their rooms to rest and get ready for an early session on Saturday morning at 09.00.

Saturday 1st February 2014

Our students all woke up early and promptly attended the 09.00 session in the morning. After three hours of debating, there was a break for lunch before the second session of the day commenced at 14.00. The second session lasted four hours in an attempt to get the resolutions completed, meaning that the students left the committee rooms at 18.00 and returned to their rooms to prepare for the Cultural Extravaganza, and ultimately, the Delegate Dance in the evening.

The Cultural Extravaganza consisted of mainly of Harvard Students from different countries exhibiting their traditional dances and songs but this year there was an additional element where the MUN students were also able to show off their musical skills.

However, the highlight of the day, and probably the whole trip for some students, was the Delegate Dance. All students dressed immaculately for the party that was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton. Using all of your sensory skills – in particular sight, sound, smell – I will leave you to imagine the scene and atmosphere of 3000 high school students from numerous countries around the world gathered together and dancing in one place.

After 3 hours of non-stop music and dancing, our students wearily returned to their rooms and (I would hope) promptly fell asleep as there was a 09.00 session in the morning, the final session of the MUN.

Sunday 2nd February 2014

Today was the last session of the conference and also the Closing Ceremony. Some of the committees had already finished their resolutions the day before, so it was a chance to relax and have some fun in committee. Others were frantically trying to agree resolutions before the end of the session.

Once the committees finished, the Closing Ceremony began. There were the usual speeches followed by the awarding of prizes for the best students. As the final prize was awarded, the 61st Annual Harvard MUN was officially declared closed.

Some students were leaving that day whilst others, like us, were staying on a day or so longer. The hotel lobby was like a ghost town after the swarm of students during the previous week. Our students looked sad that the conference was over as they had made many new friends over the course of the conference and everybody returned to their rooms, tired and disconsolate to prepare for the evening.

The plan for the evening was to go to TGI Fridays and watch the annual Super Bowl, which is the final of the American Football Season. We had made our reservations and made our way to the restaurant just in time for kick off. Everybody happily ate and drank as the game was played out on the numerous screens scattered around the restaurant. The eventual outcome was a resounding victory for the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos by 43-8.

We returned to the hotel to relax after our long day and prepare for an even longer final day on Monday.

Monday 3rd February 2014

Similar to last year, we planned to spend our last day at Wrentham Village Outlet Centre, a large shopping retail park about an hour from the hotel. We hired a large bus to take us there in comfort and left the hotel around 11.00 arriving at Wrentham towards midday. The weather had turned cold again and snow had arrived to accompany us on our journey.

Arriving at Wrentham, we arranged to meet back at 17.00 for our return trip. The students couldn’t wait to get going and quickly started running around the numerous stores spending what money they had remaining. The snow continued throughout the day so we were happy to spend more time in the stores rather than walking around outside. As I returned to the Food Court, which was our designated meeting place, I was met with a mountain of shopping bags with Ms Mengi watching over them as the students continued their shopping sprees before returning with more bags.

As the time approached 17.00, our students had already gathered in the Food Court waiting for our bus to return and take us back to the hotel. Frantically, we boarded the bus and the driver carefully drove us back in the ongoing snow. The time was around 19.00 when we arrived at the hotel and many of us just returned to our rooms whilst others spent their final evening in a local restaurant before returning to their rooms to prepare the bags for our flight home the next day.

Tuesday 4th February 2014

Our flight today was due to take-off at 18.30 so we had arranged to meet in the lobby by 15.00 in order to make our way to the airport in time. All rooms were due to check-out by midday but we reserved a couple of rooms until 15.00 to store the numerous suitcases. Until 15.00, students were allowed free time to spend as they wished for what would be their final hours in Boston.

By the time you read this last journal entry of HMUN2014, we will all be back home safely after an amazing 8 days.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we look forward to meeting again at HMUN2015.

10 February 2014 Monday
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