On the 11th October I started my journey to Rhodes (via Thessaloniki) to take part in the Model Regional Cooperation 2016. This is an annual event that simulates particular regional committees such as the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Council of Europe and the African Union. I represented the Republic of Cyprus in my committee, which was called the Middle East Peace Conference. This committee was slightly different to others as it was a crisis committee. This meant that we would find out new information about the topic of discussion as the committee was taking place. For example: “The Cypriot intelligence services has gained intel of an imminent attack on the West Bank by Hamas.” Therefore it was vital to be prepared prior to the conference by researching my country’s position on the main issues within the MENA (Middle East and North African) region.
The objectives of the committee were to create practical solutions to issues and to agree to these solutions in the form of a unanimous vote. The problem we all had was that we had to stay within our country’s policy and many times countries disagreed with each other. Furthermore, we acted as heads of state so we had full control of our forces and intelligence services. Many times countries performed secret actions without the committee knowing, such as deploying their air force where they were not wanted! We had to be available 24/7 as a new crisis could occur at any time. On Thursday, we received a message in the middle of the night to meet outside the hotel to receive new information on the conflict in Yemen.
I learnt how to draft resolutions, negotiate, write speeches and create practical solutions to problems. Moreover, my confidence in public speaking has improved incredibly as I had to address the whole committee numerous times especially when I had direct involvement with some of the issues. I also learnt a lot about politics and international relations as countries formed into blocs with their allies and certain countries had a lot of influence in decision making because they hold a lot of power.
Despite the fact I represented a smaller country, I still had the opportunity to get involved with all that was going on in the Committee. I was given an honourable mention at the award ceremony for my dedication to the diplomatic peace process and for creating viable solutions to problems. When I first arrived I was very nervous as many members had prior experience with simulation events; they were more confident with the rules of procedure and lexicon needed for a model regional cooperation event. However, you learn very quickly by seeing and imitating what other delegates say and do.
Furthermore, before the conference started I was asked to create a short position paper which stated my country’ policies and involvement for certain issues. This was intented to be a basis for my discussion during the event itself. The great thing was that the board provided feedback for the position paper, which allowed me to improve my arguments for the committee sessions.
This experience is not only about improving one’s CV or gaining valuable skills; the conference organisers also wanted us to have fun during our stay in Rhodes. The board set up competitions and social events for every day and night. On the Sunday there was medieval tour of the old city where we learnt about the history of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights. On Monday many of us went to Lindos to see the Acropolis. The great thing is that many of these sites are protected by UNESCO and are free for students to visit.
In conclusion, I recommend that everyone takes part in a simulation event at least once in their life. It provides a great opportunity to make friends, see new places and gain valuable skills!
Written by Phoebe Coles