by: Poimen Agnila || Photo Credit: PSHS-EVC Delegation
To the uninitiated, Model United Nations is nothing but a bunch of unnecessarily discursive and overly impassioned teenagers showing up in coats and slacks, spewing out pages’ worth of UN SDGs-related statistics, and getting into heated debates about the political and economic state of the world right now. While this observation isn’t technically false, it is, however, incomplete. To fill in the gaps left by the general public’s unfamiliarity with student-led global diplomacy events such as MUN, this delegate motions to take you through the absolute rollercoaster of the recently concluded Philippine Science High School System Model United Nations Youth Summit III.
From November 28 to December 2, 2022, six student-delegates from PSHS-EVC, including myself, Crishelle Phoebe Yu, Aine Kirstie Latoja, Kyrus Matthew Pampanga, Troyann Justin Pallones, and Kyle Andrew Abello, braved not only the cold of the Baguio climate but also the much colder pre-contest anxiety-induced shivers of the first in-person PMUNYS. We were joined by three more students who trained for and served as committee Dais for the summit, namely Alchris Marie Ceballos, Kyle Matthew Balasanos, and Joshua Christopher Capada. Lastly, heading the EVC delegation were our dedicated and passionate teachers, our coach, Ma’am Noemi Agner, and Sir Eman Patata, who’s been there since day one and served as the Technical Working Group for PMUNYS III.
To say that the change in scenery from the quiet late-night practices at CReST’s Smart Classroom-B to the buzzing committee sessions at 456 Hotel’s function rooms was exhilarating would be an understatement. I don’t think I would be alone in saying that the entirety of the summit felt like a fever dream. Sure, it was nerve-wracking at first, but in the end, the awe of just being there triumphed over the crippling self-doubt caused by the exponentially-increasing butterflies in our stomachs.
However, before everything else, let’s have a quick rundown of what people do in PMUNYS. First, you get assigned a committee and country (in my case, it was UN Women and the Republic of Chad, respectively). Then, you are tasked with writing a position paper that provides insight into your country’s stance on the chosen topic (for this year, it was Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation). Next, during the summit itself, all countries must present an opening speech for the General Speaker’s List. Right after, an agenda-setting of the debate will determine the topics the committee will discuss over the span of a few committee sessions. Moderated (consists of smaller speeches depending on the given speaking time) and unmoderated caucuses (independent discussions with fellow delegates) will take place to understand the stances of each country, propose solutions that tie in with those stances, and form blocs to begin the writing of the working paper. This working paper eventually becomes the resolution paper, with the input of all member-states within the bloc, merging to make one cohesive and diplomacy-driven framework.
The irony of a bunch of science high school students coming together to discuss the problems of the global humanities is not ironic at all; it is befitting. Although the PSHS System prides itself on its rigorous STEM-based curriculum, PMUNYS III does not erase the STEM-ness of it but instead reconciles science with the humanities in a way that beautifully exemplifies what is meant to be a Pisay scholar. Yes, heavy research, memorization of statistics, and substantial academic writing are involved. Still, scholars must also acquire a certain level of empathy and understanding to look at specific problems through the perspectives of member-states who may have them differently (politically, economically, or socially) than the country they have been tasked to represent.
Indeed, the very worst part about PMUNYS III is also its very best: it challenges you. Although it has managed to fry every single researching brain cell, wring out all public speaking confidence, and exhaust every last ounce of writing willpower, it has—as cliché and sappy as it might sound—also managed to mold us into better people. It has helped us become better listeners, better leaders, and, truthfully, better friends. They say that it’s not just a contest, but genuinely, PMUNYS III was the first one to ever make this statement feel absolutely true. It held us by the shoulders, looked us in the eye, and told us that the ideas of sleep-deprived, academically-burdened, and oftentimes confused teenagers matter. It gave us a platform to not only speak our minds about things that concern the people we took an oath to serve as science students, but also propose realistic solutions in order to give them a better quality of life. It was more than just high schoolers fighting off travel fatigue and playing diplomat dress-up in luggage-squished suits; it was countries coming together to say, “This is the problem. Here’s what we can do about it.” PMUNYS III is Pisay culture at its best — dedicated where competitiveness is warranted but extraordinarily collaborative and appreciative of one another’s efforts when the situation calls for camaraderie.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t just the eloquently-worded life lessons and intellectual takeaways that made the summit such a memorable event; it was also the small and seemingly unimportant moments that brought us together not just as scholars but as people.
What is PMUNYS III? It’s crammed moderated caucus speeches, endless back-and-forth note-passings, tension-filled resolution writings, and diplomatic conflict resolution. However, it’s also Maroon blasting in the hotel room at 12 midnight on a 17-degrees-celsius Wednesday, tracking 50,000 steps from climbing the uphill streets of Burnham Park and Session Road, enjoying late-night misadventures with the EVC delegation, breaking the Rules of Procedure by conversing in Bisaya with seatmates, exchanging intercampus chika after committee sessions, bonding over post-awarding realizations while eating dinner on the roof deck, passing out on the bed from dancing the Socials Night away to You Belong With Me, and exchanging MBTI types, Spotify Wrappeds, and Twitter and Instagram handles with the committee-members-turned-friends who’ve made the past week a truly unforgettable one.
I have met so many amazing people through PMUNYS III. They are outstanding writers, articulate speakers, and brilliant thinkers, but more than that, they care. They are passionate, and in a time where it’s so easy to feel disheartened and defeated by all that’s been going on with the world, passion is a spectacular thing to have. It’s been such a treat being in the same room as my fellow delegates, witnessing their eagerness to become the change they want to see in the world, and learning so much from the way they represented their country in the summit. True to its logo, the heart of Pisay will always be the passionate fire that continues to burn brightly in the souls of its earnest scholars. It’s nice to know that while most of us openly admitted to joining PMUNYS III solely for the clout, we will go back home with more than just a bigger Facebook friends list and full camera roll.
With placards raised, motions passed, and meetings adjourned, PMUNYS III secures the top spot for the “Highlight of My 2022” Award by an overwhelming majority vote. Although it’s already been a couple of weeks since we’ve bid our goodbyes, I cannot help but become sentimental over all the shared moments and memories made during our short-lived adventure as diplomats. Words will never do justice to how much I have come to love this event in all its stressful glory and how much I will miss it. Baguio is a one-hour flight and 6-hour bus ride from Tacloban, but I will forever hold this summit close to my heart.
There was a quote shared in the closing ceremony which I think perfectly captures what PMUNYS III was all about: “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach.
PMUNYS III, truly, is for the dreamers who did.