MUN BilbaoLeft to right: Mr. Ruhstorfer, Luca Vetter, Julia Stoffel, Pablo Kenzelmann-Martin, Jonathan Wirtz, Maren Werner, Margrethe Jensen, Leander Schubert, Michael Ganter, Lorenz Flechtenmacher, Charlotte Kielholz, Leo Burmedi, Thomas Pfeiffer, Daniel Teigland in front of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

MUN Bilbao 2017

Did you ever wonder what the working day of a politician feels like? Representing the opinion of an entire nation instead of your own? Debating about the problems of our world? This is what some of the pupils out of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, under the supervision of Mr. Ruhstorfer and Mr. Korber of the Englische Institut experienced at the MUN Bilbao conference in January 2017.

Exploring Bilbao Our journey began in the morning hours of Tuesday, the 24th of January, at the Heidelberger Hotel Crown Plaza. After an uneventful trip, we arrived in Bilbao at our hotel, from which we could reach the center of Bilbao in about half an hour. Since we still had the entire afternoon, we decided to explore the Spanish city and ended the day with pintxos, the local name for tapas. Apart from the good food, Bilbao is also known for the famous Guggenheim museum, which we visited on Wednesday. Due to the extraordinary architecture of the museum, which has only curved surfaces, even the building itself was a piece of art.

Although the architecture was fascinating, we also managed to look at the art inside of the museum, which featured world-famous, early 20th century artists such as Picasso, but also included art by rather unknown and still living artists such as Fiona Tan. Furthermore, the art was expressed in several ways, e.g. as a painting, as sculptures or even as a film. Sadly the second floor was being renovated, so we could not see the artworks on that floor. Despite that, we all enjoyed our visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The rest of the day we spent exploring Bilbao and looking for somewhere nice to eat. As we arrived back at our hotel, the atmosphere of the conference was beginning to spread, since several other schools coming for the conference had arrived throughout the day. Despite coming from different cities or even countries, people did not have any problems socializing, and soon there were several conversations underway. On the last morning before the conference, even though the day was rather cold and windy, we decided to go to see the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly it was too cold to go for a swim so we looked at but did not enter the ocean. After that small tour, we arrived at the hotel. The conference was going to start in a matter of hours.

Halls steeped in history Although the excitement was beginning to spread among us, we decided to take a short break before reviewing our notes one last time before the conference.  After a 30 minute bus ride, we arrived at the city of Guernica, where we were lead to the “Casa de Juntas de Gernika”. This building was and is the place where the “Juntas Generales of Biscay” were held, a regional assembly existing since the 14th century to debate and decide on local issues. Furthermore, it is part of one of the first democratic institutions in Spain. This was the place where the opening ceremony of the conference was held. After an introductory video, several of the people organizing the conference held their speeches and were followed by all of the ambassadors of the nations represented at the conference, each of whom had to hold a speech lasting no longer than a minute and presenting the policy of their country.  Last but not least the Secretary General, who was part of the team organizing the conference, held one final speech and invited us to the school where the conference was to be held. Arriving there, we were awaited by snacks and drinks. The motivation was high, as one could notice, since several people already were wanting to start with the actual part of the conference over snacks. Getting in the thick of it The next day, the debates finally started. The delegates were split into the committees of the conference and started to look for other delegates with whom they could team up and develop a resolution, which is basically how the makers of the resolution want to solve the problem that was to be debated. Although that part of the conference ended up to be rather confusing, sooner or later all resolutions were made and the debating finally began. After ending the debates for the day, the evening program began. While most of the delegates were taken on a tour through Bilbao introducing the city, the other delegates, representing their nations, were invited to a reception held in the town hall, a stunning building built in the Baroque style with the Arab Hall resembling the decorations of the Alhambra. On Saturday morning the debates in the committees were finalized and their fruits were presented to the General Assembly, all of the delegates in one big room, in the afternoon. This was followed by a black tie dinner held in our hotel, which included a disco in the lounge of the hotel. Although most delegates had a rather late night, the following day the final three hours of debating in the General Assembly were very lively and each resolution was passed with thundering applause. After the last resolution was passed, the Secretary General took the floor and held a final speech in conclusion of the entire conference and thanked all delegations for participating. Although that was the official ending, most of the delegates still ate lunch together and then said their goodbyes to those leaving. We, the E.I.-group, had decided to leave the following morning and made our own conclusion to the conference on Sunday evening. On Monday we then arrived where the entire trip had begun: at the Hotel Crown Plaza in Heidelberg. All in all, we all enjoyed our trip to Bilbao and had a lot of fun. Although the conference was a little bit chaotic at times and some of the delegates were rather inexperienced, the conference in total was a good learning experience and the delegates made up for their inexperience with motivation. We’re eager to host our own conference (hEImun) in July and hope we’ll maybe see you there as well!

Thomas Pfeiffer