Everyone’s gearing up for the start of the second semester next Monday. I can’t believe a semester has passed already. It feels like forever ago that my classmates and I were going through a candle lighting ceremony and being sweet and awkward at the ice cream social on the first day of classes. So many exciting things have happened since, from braving the pickle and venturing to D.C. for the first time to late night on-campus s’mores. The most memorable experience of them all, however, was the Model European Union trip.
One of my classes this past semester was Politics of Europe, taught by Dr. Leahy. At the beginning of the semester, she talked about the Model EU trip, which was held from November 14-16 in Washington, D.C. It immediately became one thing I wanted to do, as it sounded similar to events hosted by my favourite high school organization, JSA. She cautioned me initially that priority would be given to upperclassmen who wanted to go; however, luckily enough, another freshman and I were selected.
The simulation in Model EU is that of the European Parliament. Ten schools participated in the local one (though these simulations happened across the country) and each represented a country, McDaniel having Greece, with their students representing a real life member of Parliament. Ahead of time, students are given the ‘resolution,’ which, written by other students, contains many different clauses regarding economic and social policies. Each of these clauses is debated over during the conference, with members of Parliament amending them in order to benefit their country and their political party.
Before the simulation started, we walked to the Greek Embassy in D.C., where we got to talk to people who worked there about Greece’s views on the topics we’d be discussing in Model EU. This was super cool because we got to write questions to ask the delegates from Greece on any topic. They handled these questions very diplomatically, giving us a platform to work off in addition to what we’d learned in our research, while also protecting their own interests and being politically correct.
I represented Maria-Eleni Koppa, who is a member of the Socialist and Democratic Party. This was particularly interesting for me, as in real life, I’m a libertarian—extremely liberal socially, but right leaning economically. As European Parliament is way more left than United States government, I found myself arguing for policies I wouldn’t support in real life.
We needed to elect a president of Parliament. The S&D party, being one of the biggest parties, was definitely going to nominate someone. Though I was nervous, being around a bunch of older and more experienced upperclassmen, I decided I had nothing to lose and volunteered to run. I ended up losing the election by a handful of votes, but as it was to my countryman, John, who was also from McDaniel, I wasn’t too disappointed.
The experience was enlightening but in a kind of scary way. I was in the Economics committee, and my party formed an alliance with another party halfway through the session. From then on, we had a two-thirds majority and could simply block vote whatever we wanted onto the resolution. Though this was wonderful for my party, it was really scary because I could see how in real life, voices representing smaller demographics are simply shut out.
Our delegation stayed in the hotel for two nights and went out for a lot of meals together with Dr. Leahy. She’s an absolutely incredible professor. I used to find her kind of intimidating because she seems to know absolutely everything, but having these meals together with her and her son made me realize that she’s also a great human being. Since only half of the delegation was in the Politics of Europe class, I also got to meet upperclassmen I may not have otherwise met. I also got to meet people from other schools in the area. I didn’t make any close friends, but having dinner with people from my party and attending a formal ‘gala’ with all the members of parliament was a lot of fun, since I love to meet new people.
The experience was unlike any I’d had before—utterly incredible, and a ton of fun, too! I’m really looking forward to the Harvard National Model United Nations trip I’ll be going on in February.