The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Crossing borders and making friendships in chilly Berlin

Looking sharp: Gregory H.(12) strikes a pose with fellow MUN co-submitters.

 In June of 1963, President John Kennedy told a crowd of half a million Berliners: “Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.” [I am a Berliner]

On November 22, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, 12 delegates from TAS attended the 22nd Berlin Modern United Nations conference at JFK School in Berlin.
JFK School is a bilingual German public school established in memory of the late president, who holds a special place in the memory of Berlin, for his defense of the liberties of that divided city at the height of the Cold War.
This year, over 800 delegates assembled to discuss, draft, and merge resolutions on the topic of education as the key to advancement, equality, and a secure future.
In realizing President Kennedy’s vision of advancing education and international peace, our two teams, representing Russia and Afghanistan, achieved great results. Eight out of 12 TAS delegates were main-submitters, and 3 resolutions successfully passed in their committees.
Berlin is a famously open and liberal city, and the rules at the BerMUN conference are very different from those of Asian conferences.

Security Council
Making a point!: Eric F.(12) and Moksha S. (10) represent Russia in a debate over the Syrian crisis.

At BerMUN, singing and dancing onstage are the penalties for being late to the conference. Smoking is even allowed during lunch hours and snack breaks (though not for TAS delegates, of course!)
“I was surprised how common it was for teenagers there to smoke. They were doing it even in front of their teachers,” said Moksha S. (10), who represented Russia in the Security Council.
“It was interesting to see that people are much more informal than the people in conference in Southeast Asia,” said Jimmy C. (10), the Russian delegate in the Political Committee. “In my committee, it was very common to have five-minute speeches, and none of the delegates ever started with the ‘honorable chair, fellow delegates, and most esteemed guests’, the starting line that every TAS delegate has embedded in their head.”
There were some issues that delegates had to avoid, as this conference was dominated by German schools.
“An insensitive delegate even decided to call himself a ‘grammar Nazi’ while correcting grammar on a resolution. The entire committee stared at him, with the [German] delegate behind me shaking his head saying ‘not cool, bro,’” said Gregory H., the Afghan ambassador.
Yet, every delegate agreed with Jimmy that “BerMUN is one of the best, socially open conferences that I’ve ever been to.”
“European delegates were much nicer than I had originally expected. We had lots of lobbying time, so I got to know a lot of people on a personal level. It was very interesting to get to know about their lives back home,” Priyanka B. (10) said.
During their stay, Mr Bell, the BerMUN director, also led the team of 12 around Berlin, where barely a street or road doesn’t bear traces of its tragic past: Checkpoint Charlie, a part of Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, and even the Topography of Terror, where the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, was once located.
“The best part of the trip was visiting the memorials,” said Priyanka. Learning and seeing [them] was defintely very memorable as I was able to somewhat experience the hardships these people had gone through.”

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