Switzerland Debate Trip
Written by Ella, Oriana, Hanlei & Hamdan, Year 8 students
Having arrived early in the morning on Thursday we were collected by the trip organiser and escorted back to the hotel. Luckily, we were able to check-in and have some breakfast. After which we decided to take the tram into the shopping centre. We bought some chocolate and other souvenirs and then went to the cinema to see ‘How to Train a Dragon 3.’ The flight took its toll and each of us dozed for a few minutes in the darkened room!
On Friday, we had the chance to tour the UN building in Geneva and learn a little about the history of the UN and Child Human Rights. We were picked up by coach and taken to the UN building. We had to get our badges to enter the building as security was very tight. It took a while but after that, we had an amazing tour! We got to see the whole building and listen to all the facts from our very knowledgeable guide.
The ground of the assembly hall was made from materials from all around the world, there were even peacocks in the garden! There were several big conference/debating rooms and the one where Human Rights conferences are held, had an creatively designed roof which represented the ocean bed. The tour ended with a visit to the book shop where we could buy souvenirs.
We then went to meet one of the High Commissioners of Child Human Rights. We discussed some of the changes that may need to take place since they were first written 30 years ago.
After the UN tour was our visit to the school, La Côte International School. After having a ‘délicieux’ lunch we went to the assembly hall. Since barely anyone knew each other (other than the people from their own schools) it was decided to play some ice-breaker games. The first required us to tell two truths and one lie. People were supposed to try and work out which thing you had said that was false. We then had to make a tower out of spaghetti, cellotape and marshmallows and also had to make a safe crash-landing vehicle for an egg (out of straws). By the end of these we had managed to talk to everyone and had been able to hear who the dominant speakers were.
We then moved onto writing our opening speeches. We had a total of two hours to write our speech and had a number of IB students (well-versed in debating) who circulated the room helping those who needed it. With that time we didn’t only write our speech but we went the extra mile and spoke to a few students from other countries to see if they would become our allies!
After that, we all went back to the hotel and had some social time. For dinner we had pizza with some famous swiss cheese. They were like calzones but instead were made by a company only known in Switzerland. They were like ‘pizza pockets.’ We were able to talk to all the students who arrived and were becoming familiar.
On the Saturday we woke up early. Maybe because I was slightly jet-lagged, or maybe because I was so excited.
Breakfast was always amazing. The bread was fresh and so was the cheese. Then we went on the bus with the Nord Anglia schools from Madrid, Moscow and Tashkent. On the bus we could see the beautiful mountains with snow on top. When we arrived at the school a woman called Loretta gave us talked to us about the NGO that she works for, it helps people around the world and she looked at some of the humanitarian work that they had done and how to go about managing difficult situations that require negotiation and compromise.
We went to our committees (Security Council) as the delegation for Spain. The IB students taught us what an Unmoderated Caucus was, how to address the chair, what it meant to be ‘present and voting’ and other debating etiquette. The IB students were very patient and explained everything well.
Firstly, we debated about 'The Denuclearisation in North and South Korea'. We had a little break with hot chocolate and cookies. In that break lots of us felt more confident to seek out students who spoke our native language. Everyone was very open and warm. Then we went back to our committees. It was hard making the final resolutions because there were some countries with the VETO right, which means that if they don’t approve of the resolution put forward by your delegation, it can’t pass. In the afternoon we moved onto discussing 'The Arms Market' and its regulations. We took it in turns to read our opening speeches and answer any ‘points of information.’
Before the closing ceremony Hanlei played the piano, he drew quite a crowd!
During the closing ceremony we were awarded certificates and some students were selected for individual prizes. Then we were given some time to change for the Gala Dinner followed by a disco. While the boys were too shy to dance the girls got involved.
Finally, we went back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest and to prepare for our early flight the next day.
We were sad to leave on Sunday. We had an early start to the day so didn’t get to say goodbye to people we had met. We had exchanged numbers though so we are able to message each other. As we took off, we said a sad goodbye to Geneva and its beautiful scenery. After the flight home we were all glad to get home and see our families (and friends the next day). On Monday everyone was asking how the trip went; we were able to tell them about all the things we had done, and they were amazed a what we had been able to do and what we had learnt.
Prior to going onto the trip, we weren’t completely sure what debating and the MUN was, but now we now know how to put forward a current world issue, discuss it and put forward our newly-learned debating skills in order to seek a resolution. We found it all a bit challenging at first but everyone at La Côte International School helped us and to understand the whole process and research our designated areas for discussion.
We are now able to watch the news and imagine the debates going on behind the scenes with the news reporters and understand more of the global problems that they are talking about.
The LCIS building itself was different to BIS Abu Dhabi, however there were lots of similarities and it was interesting to compare. The food, the disco and our new- found friends added to the experience also. Not to mention, we may have bought our body weight in chocolate.
In summary, we encourage other students to go on this trip and take part in the challenge of MUN debating as it unlocks all new possibilities, opens your eyes and is a great introduction to debating and MUN. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible.
Written by Ella, Oriana, Hanlei & Hamdan, Year 8 students