Simulation SAARC 2007
From Point of Information to Point of Entertainment
It is often said that youth is wasted on the youth. I'm not sure whomever said that has ever met a youth diplomat or youth activist. However, I may have missed the point of what the saying is about. I can however with confidence say that it definitely wasn't about the bright SAARC youths who participated at the 2007 Simulation SAARC held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I think it would be even more redundant to anyone who has met any of the boys in girls from Ananda College and the numerous other colleges and schools that participated from all over.
The story or more appropriately the tale of the adventures and misadventures of the Bangladesh Delegation and United Nations Youth and Students of Bangladesh, UNYSAB Delegation to the Simulation SAARC 2007, in Colombo, Srilanka would indeed have to begin in Dhaka. Before I talk about the misadventures of the entire delegation it would seem fitting to introduce the team and how each of them earned their place in this story. The eight member delegation consisted of seven young eager minds, Aniqa Moinuddin, Kashpee Wahid and Nazm-us-Saadat from MasterMind, Rihab Rubaiyat and Ashiqur Rahman of Dhanmondi Tutorial, Maimun ur Rashid Mustafa of the Aga Khan School and Nafis Alam of Rajuk Uttara Model High School and myself Farheena Rahman the shockingly young Head Delegate, Delegation Manager and all round chaperone.
Having now introduced the team we may move on to part misadventure and part success in seeking financial assistance for the team. It must be said that due importance to the international exposure of Bangladeshi students and any international academic experiences is not given. If it were it would not have been so difficult to convince people that it was a worthy cause to give students monetary support for such an endeavour. However, despite having said that I must also say that a few very generous individuals did indeed contribute and NAC International was kind enough to provide a substantial amount towards the travel expenses of the Delegation as well as Dhanmondi Tutorial who bore the expense of one of their students.
This short account of the Dhaka side of the story will have to suffice since the full story would involve more accounts of heartbreak. So we fast forward on to good part, travelling to and finally reaching the desired destination, Colombo.
Sri Lanka despite being a relatively close neighbour to Bangladesh has no direct flights from Bangladesh to anywhere in the country. So what would have otherwise been a short journey became a day long one with a stopover in Singapore, where during our 5-hour transit we succeeded to lose each other at least 3 times in search of food. Once finally on the flight the sense of euphoria set in, we were on our way to the emerald isle. Upon landing there two things were evident - that it would be very hot the entire time we were there and that the hospitality would surpass that of a hundred suns of sweltering heat. We were met at the airport by two students of Ananda College -Kalpa and Suwin - who tirelessly did everything to make our stay more comfortable. . Had it not been for them and a one Mr. Rohan L. Ellawal, Charg`e d' Affairs of the entire conference I'm not quite sure how things would have worked out. From placing in a hotel quite literally on the beach to having homemade Sri Lankan food delivered to hotel every night.
The conference began like a whirlwind and every committee's agenda was different. We had to prepare emergency topics. Committee 1(Agriculture and Rural development) dealt with (i)Formation and implementation of a regional strategy in ensuring food-security and (ii) Curbing the threat of trans-boundary animal diseases towards agricultural interests, Committee 2(Poverty Alleviation) dealt with (i) A regional diagram to initiate a collective effort of member nations towards alleviating urban poverty and (ii) The role of health and education development in poverty reduction strategies, in Committee 3(Environmental Protection & Management) it was (i) Marine conservation and biodiversity in the age of regional economic development and (ii) Water and waste water reuse- an environmentally & economically sound approach to sustainable urban water management. For Committee 4(Economic Development in South Asia) it was (i) Harmonization of banking sector in SAARC region and (ii)Creating a regular regional dialogue to re-enforce the importance of good governance in economic development. All the above mentioned committees would later merge with the General Assembly and discuss their topics and final resolutions there.
Aside from those committees there was the Women's & Child Rights Commission which dealt with (i) The economic and social implications of a growing sex-trade in South Asia and (ii) The creation of a unanimous regional declaration to protect the rights of women and children and the use of economic and social tools to ensure successful implementation, the South Asian Peace Forum which talked about (i) A common security forum & regional strategic force to protect regional boundaries, both land and maritime and (ii) The threat of International Terrorism towards the stability of South Asia and finally the Head of States Council which talked about (i)Forming a united regional front against unilateral extra-territorial coercive economic, social and diplomatic measures on South Asian nations by non SAARC nations (ii)Enhancing the role of the SAARC beyond regional level to better represent regional interests in international forums to achieve regional development goals.
While in each of these committees most schools and colleges had three students each representing a country the UNYSA Bangladesh delegation had only one delegate in each committee. Despite the disadvantage of having to manoeuvre through committee dynamics alone, each delegate did so with poise. Another misadventure of the entire delegation was not having had the rules of procedure till well into the conference, though it didn't hamper the performance of the team in the least.
Moving away now from the stereotypical conference details let me talk about the conference entertainment. For all your debaters and MUN kids Point of information means nothing compared to Point of Entertainment, and nobody does it better then the Srilankans. A close second to them I would have to say would be the Bangladeshis. I've seen people sing, dance, enact little funny skits and plays but the mother of them all must be the prank the organisers played on all the participants.
The announcement that the President would be coming to view the General Assembly, GA Proceedings was quite awe inspiring and obviously everyone were on their best behaviour after hearing that. And thus patiently the GA continued until the announcement that he was in the building and would be entering shortly came. Everyone sat on the edge of their seats waiting to stand up as soon as he arrived.
At last in walked this man, or so we assumed in a white sarong and white 'kurta' and a 'gamcha' around his neck (something we had gifted all the participants that day). For awhile I would say everyone who hadn't got a good look at him in the first place was now looking at him intently. He looked very young, he looked quite skinny and it took him to open his mouth for many to realise he wasn't indeed the president, but a student dressed up as him. Next came the funniest question and answer session that would ever ensue for anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the real President of Srianka. The prank wasn't lost on anyone, even us foreigners sitting in the crowd.
It was hard to top that but the prank bore no significance for many of the participants until the next point of entertainment. However, by this time it had all nearly come to an end. Somehow it all finished before it had even started. I could only feel anxiety for my own team members who sat on tenterhooks waiting to see if they made the top three in their committees. However, before we got to that part we would have to perform something I had duped my delegation into doing, a little dance performance. In turn, I was duped into joining them otherwise there would be no performance - they threatened. Aside from myself, five other boys and girls on the stage were sensational and I shall not hazard a guess as to how bad I was. My only consolation being subsequently dubbed the cool and much too young chaperone of the Bangladesh Delegation. Yet, insignificance aside, to our surprise what followed was indeed one of the most proud moments in my life. Four members of my delegation won a place in the top three spots as best delegates in their committees - Aniqa Moinuddin from MasterMind; Rihab Rubaiyat and Ashiqur Rahman from Dhanmondi Tutorial and Maimun ur Rashid Mustafa from the Aga Khan School. Nazm-us-Saadat was adjudged best delegate of his team. If that wasn't good enough, the delegation would continue to be the first international team to ever win the Best delegation award.
The rest of the trip including the last two days might as well have been a blur compared to that particular moment. Euphoria they say is short lived, but I can tell you that the euphoria of that moment lasted much longer than we expected. It was there when we went to visit the Elephant Orphanage right outside Colombo. It was there on the “golden mile”, a stretch of beach that can only be described as perfect.
On a personal note, though everything said so far seems a little personal and a little public, the pride I felt for my delegation was pure because I gained very little else from the experience other then visiting a new land. Anyone reading this will find him/her on the emerald isle where the ocean seems to beckon with its waves. Anyone who was with us or helped us in Sri Lanka in whatever capacity I know I can't thank all of you by name, but Thank you!
(R) thedailystar.net 2007