Everyone knows that United Nations (UN) is an international organization for the purpose of maintaining peace and social development. However, did you know that there is a “National Model United Nation” (NMUN)where university students from around the world discuss international issues?
Model United Nations(MUN) itself has its origins at Syracuse University, where it was first held as an “intercollegiate Model United Nations” in 1927, when the United Nations did not exist. Nowadays, the activity has spread all over the world, and surprisingly, approximately 400 Model UN conferences are held. The sponsors range from high school and university club activities to non-profit organizations such as the United Nations Association of the United States of America. It is amazing how high level of their educational programs, which include not only the ability to use English, the official language of the meetings, but also understanding the structure of international politics and experiencing the process of thinking about solutions to international problems is.
The Model United Nations World Conference was suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, but the event could finally be held in Japan after 2 years of waiting. We, Journal-ONE were able to interview a part of the “National Model United Nation 2022″(NMUN 2022) held at Kobe Portopia Hotel and other locations from November 20 to 26 with the cooperation of the host school, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.
We would like to report on the wonderful smiles and great activities of 298 students of diverse nationalities from 42 universities and organizations in 11 countries (Japan, the US, UK, Germany, Philippines, Italy, Canada, Ukraine, Australia, Thailand, and Chile), including Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.
In this article, we will report on the international exchange through cultural visits!
Please click here to read other articles about the opening ceremony and the sessions too!
<International exchange through a cultural visit of Kyoto – Reporter: Azuki Suzuki (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies)
Hello everyone. I’m Azuki Suzuki. I’m a student at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, where is hosting NMUN 2022.
I am happy that my university could finally host the conference after 2 years of postponement. I became a reporter for Journal-ONE for the first time so that everyone can learn a little bit about the activities of this conference!
This time I will be reporting on the “cultural visit.”
MUN is an educational activity that aims to deepen students’ understanding of international issues and improve their overall international communication skills, including negotiation, discussion, and language skills, just like in actual UN conference. At the conference, students must represent a country other than their own. Therefore, it is very important to learn about the country they represent.
The main purpose of this cultural visit was to create an opportunity for students all over the world to understand Japan. There were 3 cultural visiting in total in Kobe, the host city of the conference, Hiroshima, a city where we can think about peace, and Kyoto, a city where we can learn about the history of Japan.
I interviewed seven students from California State University, San Bernardino, the US during the cultural visit of Kyoto. Let us introduce the appeal of NMUN through our interaction with them!
The meeting place was in front of the gate of Fushimi Inari Taisha, a World Heritage site that is popular among tourists visiting Japan.
Because it is a beautiful season to see autumn leaves there, a lot of people get off the train every time the train stops at the station!
Here they come, led by a tour guides in a blue jackets!
Actually, these tour guides are also students at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies. Everyone at our university wants to be involved in this Model United Nations activity. Those who don’t participate as delegates can also support NMUN by playing different roles. I am also very happy to be involved in the activities as a reporter!
Let’s go to the precinct to interview them.
He is Arlan Meacher. He will be representing India on the Security Council at the conference. “This is my first time to visit Japan. Everything I see is new.” “I was really looking forward to visiting Kyoto.” he said happily as he looked up at the large Torii gate. Alan says that Japan is one of the countries he has always wanted to visit. When he talked about Shohei Ohtani, who plays for the Anaheim Angels of the American Major League Baseball, he said, “I saw Ohtani pitch and hit once! He’s a great player. He also shared his impressions of watching the two-way player.
Yussif Kanbar, who will be attending the Security Council meeting with Alan as a partner, was so enthusiastic that he released the shutter of his camera before he could see it with his own eyes.
“I’ve always been interested in Japan. The history, the culture, the food…it’s just amazing!” he spoke.
“This is a film camera. I like that you don’t know how the photos will turn out until they are developed.” He was always looking for the best angle. At a small path with a large stone monument and a stone wall in the middle of the approach to the temple, he was finding the best spot to take photos. I asked him if he was interested in the “kanji” (Chinese characters) written on the stone monument. “I was trying to find a camera angle to capture the large stone monument and the stone wall behind it as a Japanese landscape piece with depth, he replied. Because he explained like a professional photographer, I couldn’t help but take a picture from the same spot. Umm…I learned that this kind of Japanese scenery can be spic.
Looking at the vermilion-lacquered main shrine with great interest is Alexander Edsel. Alex, with an intellectual atmosphere, will be representing Jamaica at the Convention on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. Alex, who is studying cybermobility majoring in computers, said, “I’ll attend the conference because I thought it would be a very good opportunity to think about world peace. Getting ready for the conference has been a real challenge, but it’s a very rewarding activity.” He said with a kind smile.
Cynthia Roman, who will be attending the conference paired up with Alex, said, “Arigato Gozaimasu, Sumimasen.” meaning “thank you” and “excuse me” in Japanese. Cynthia has experienced NMUN before at her previous college!
She explained the reason why she speaks Japanese well is that “my younger brother loves Japanese anime, so we studied Japanese together. Being able to come to Japan as a member of the world is a great memory for me.” Cynthia, the middle child complained about the difficulties of being a younger sister and older sister at the same time. I found so many similarities in the brother-sister relationship as a middle child. Cynthia is studying hard for her major with a dream of working for NASA in the future. Today, space is becoming more and more familiar, you may see Cynthia on the news making groundbreaking developments.
After taking a photo with everyone in front of the Thousand Torii gate, we took a short break on the street with many food stalls lining.
With the sight and the smell of takoyaki and other unique Japanese foods, all delegates started inspecting the stalls one by one with great curiosity!
Alan and Yusuf, interested in Japanese food, tried takoyaki. “What’s in this? Alan pointed to a can of octopus. I wondered if they don’t eat octopus very often in the U.S. I explained what was in the takoyaki, he said he would try it.
“It’s a little hot, but it’s delicious!” He seemed satisfied with the takoyaki.
He then asked me to share one, so I popped one in my mouth….
“It’s so hot! I can’t eat it!” They laughed when they saw me struggling to eat it!
Alan also tried the grass dumplings! I was impressed by the way he watched with interest as the shopkeeper cooked the dumplings over a charcoal fire and then coated them with anko (sweet red bean paste).
On the way to Kiyomizu-dera Temple by train, I spoke with Kyle Foiles.
Kyle is studying Mesopotamian history and will be representing India at the Economic and Social Council. “I love Japanese anime, especially ‘One Piece.’ So I was very happy to be chosen for the NMUN. I am interested in Japan and international law.” When I told him about unique Japanese works and souvenirs collaborating with anime, he laughed and said, “I already bought some “Jutsu Kaisen” goods!” Kyle has a wife and she is also a fan of Japanese anime. Since he could not bring her this time, she asked him to get her many souvenirs for her. He also tried Umeboshi(pickled plum) onigiri and he found it very tasty. Many foreigners do not like umeboshi, but Kyle was eager to explore Japanese food culture, saying he wanted to try ramen as well.
As well as the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple is also a World Heritage Site. As a temple representing Kyoto, the number of visitors was quite impressive!
Although we enjoyed Japanese food from the food stalls at Fushimi Inari Shrine, we were all getting hungry, so we stopped at stores along the way. But instead of ordering something to fill their bellies, everyone paused to grab a Kyoto beer or Macha ice cream.
I remember them eating matcha ice cream at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, too… I talked to Guadalupe Miranda and Angeli Richards, who were enjoying their sweets. They are two girls who are attending a session of the UN General Assembly and seem to be very close.
“I love matcha, so I can eat it forever!” Lupe, with her cute smile, said, “When I arrived in Japan, my first impression was how clean this country is. You don’t see any garbage on the streets. I think living in a very sanitary environment is medically very good.” She shared her impressions of Japan from the perspective of a student studying public health care at a university.
When I asked about her impression of Hiroshima, where she visited the day before the cultural visiting, she replied, “I felt very humbled at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. In the U.S., we only receive a little education about the nuclear bombing. I was able to think about peace again.”
Angelie said, “I attended this conference because I wanted to learn more about the population explosion and the food shortages occurring as a consequence. I also love macha and Japanese food, so I was looking forward to eating a variety of foods.” She was eating ice cream happily. The visit to Hiroshima was very memorable for me. It was a good opportunity for me to get a good look at nuclear weapons, even though I got a little sentimental at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum). She said it was a good experience for her to think about peace, the main theme of this year’s conference.
After the major renovation of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, many visitors gathered on the “Kiyomizu-no-butai” (stage of Kiyomizu) in the main hall of the temple. The delegation members took photos while looking at the beautiful autumn leaves and the cityscape of Kyoto spread out below them.
They came from California, where the weather is warmer. When I asked them if they had any custom of viewing the autumn leaves. They said, “We don’t see autumn leaves in California, but there are many places on the East Coast where people go to see the leaves in the fall.” The professor who was leading the tour showed me a picture on his smartphone. The pictures showed red-colored scenery with beautiful mountains in the background. They stop taking pictures even in places we might have missed perhaps because it is rare for them to see autumn leaves.
At the end of the tour, we had free time for shopping at souvenir shops lining Kiyomizu-zaka. Everyone seemed to enjoy shopping. When I asked them what they bought, I was a little surprised to find that they bought cute stuffed animals and mascots, not the figurines and fans that I had imagined would fully express Japanese culture. They seemed to be souvenirs for my generation, younger brothers and sisters, so perhaps “kawaii” souvenirs were popular.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye…
Everyone gathered in front of the bus. They seemed to have enjoyed the cultural tour, forgetting about their fatigue, as they stretched out holding each other’s arms. Thanks to everyone at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies for organizing this tour!
Finally, tomorrow, after the panel discussion and opening ceremony, sessions divided into each chamber will be held for a long time. I am sure everyone will be busy with preparations this evening, but I wish you all the best and hope for a good discussion.
Although this was only a brief exchange, it was a good reminder that NMUN 2022 is a conference where students from various academic majors gather for various reasons. I’ve exchanged contacts with everyone I interacted with this time, and I hope we have the chance to study or work together again someday!
To read a report on the session starting tomorrow, please click here.