BRINGING TOGETHER some 250 senior school pupils and staff from the Aloha College Malaga Spain, American School of Barcelona, American International School of Budapest, American School of Madrid, Bonn International School, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (CAISL), Colégio Internato dos Carvalhos Portugal, Colégio Luso Internaçional do Porto, Deutsche Schule Lissabon, International College of Spain Madrid, International School of Beijing-Shunyi China, International School of Stavanger Norway, Oporto British School, Saint Dominic’s International School and Saint Julian’s School is a mammoth task that started for a team of students from CAISL last year.
The Resident met their organising team and their mentor, Peter Andrews, who founded International Model United Nations (IMUN) with a co-partner from Spain at the American School of Madrid some 10 years ago. He explained that the two schools used to meet in Merida, halfway between Spain and Portugal, to hold a small conference in preparation for The Hague International Model United Nations. It was not long before St Dominic’s and St Julian’s got involved, so, in 1994, CAISL organised the first Lisbon conference, involving 100 students. Nine years later, they beat all records, with some 236 delegates from 16 participating schools.
This year’s IMUN conference was held at the Centro Cultural de Belém, in the Siaca suite. The powerful taskmasters of the CAISL organising team were all female, headed by IMUN President, Abi O’Connor, from Cascais, Vice-President Joana Hissa from Alcoitão, and Giovanna Kossakowski from Beloura.
Abi explained their first task was to set up the website and glean information from previous conferences and the internet. They all agreed that the bulk of the work was done in their own time. Giovanna revealed the extent of the project. The team had to design and manufacture badges for delegates, produce certificates, answer countless emails and find host families for the students arriving from outside Portugal. This seemingly endless task eventually came together due to lots of kind hospitality from students’ families.
As the conference got underway, Blanie Curtis welcomed everyone and thanked all those who had spent countless hours preparing for the event. The keynote speaker was Adrienne S. O’Neal, who has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Lisbon since June 2004 and has now taken over as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. She congratulated the IMUN on its 10th anniversary and commented to the delegates representing so many countries around the world that the experience would help them prepare to be citizens of the world for tomorrow, adding “as the world becomes a more complex place, the UN must foster diplomatic solutions”.
Next came the opening speeches by delegates. This gave every country’s delegates the chance to put their country’s point of view on world terrorism and prepare for the debate of resolutions that was to follow for the rest of the conference.
Lunch was quickly forgotten about as the afternoon debate on safeguarding the rights of the prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay prison got underway. This was an outstanding and remarkable performance by the students, with some well thought-out objections being fired back at the delegates – on many occasions Abi O’Connor stepped sharply into the breach to quell incorrect protocol. Further debates and resolutions took place during the conference, with more heated discussions taking place.
At the end of the IMUN weekend, the delegates agreed that CAISL had hosted an excellent conference, and that Peter Andrews, Abi O’Connor, Joana Hissa and Giovanna Kossakowski had done a great job. Perhaps one day these students will work in the UN and make the world a safer place? Bob Hughes