NATO, Thermal Baths, Cooking Classes, and World War 2: LC trip to Budapest

Photo contributed by Gaurang Goel '17

Photo contributed by Gaurang Goel '17

During the week long Thanksgiving Break, ten Loomis students along with two daring teachers, Ms. Engelke and Mr. Pipoli, took off to Budapest, Hungary. A trip was primarily focused on the Yale Model Government Europe conference, a conference that Loomis Chaffee had attended for the first time two years ago, also in Budapest. The time spent in the conference was a great learning experience for all of us. We expanded not only our public speaking skills to persuade one’s committee to pursue a specific course of action, but also our intrapersonal skills, as we went beyond just the topic at hand and created personal relationships with many other delegates during the eighteen hours we spent in the committees.

The committee that I participated in was called The North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), in which I represented Denmark along with my partner Nate Lyons’16. The topics that NATO grappled with at first were concerning issues of ISIS and the Turkey-Syria border crisis. Representing Denmark, Nate and I argued for all the reasons why a stronger border was needed and quickly teamed up with the delegates of Italy, in order to pass a comprehensive resolution to enforce even stricter border policies. In Model Government Europe, the objective is always to voice the stance of one’s country on every issue; thus, Nate and I often found ourselves fighting for more airstrikes in the region and even attempting to block all migrants from coming to Europe. By the end of the four committee sessions, our chair believed that we had taken enough action on ISIS, and we moved on to our next topic of Arctic security. The discussion of this topic was a lot less hectic and passionate than the loud-cries we witnessed in the debate of how to deal with ISIS. After 16.5 hours of amazing, demanding and tiring committee sessions, Nate and I decided to act on another problem that the world faced today: the United States of America. Our chair told us that we would need a ⅔  majority vote to kick U.S.A. out of NATO and a ⅔  majority to side with Russia on taking back the land that was truly theirs from the start: Alaska. Unfortunately, at the last minute, our chair required an unanimous vote to kick U.S.A. out of NATO instead of a ⅔ majority. Because of two manipulative delegates from Hungary, we were thwarted in our effort. It was a crazy time in that committee at least.

Besides the conference, our tour guide Miklos and Balazs took us on a walking tour of the beautiful city of Budapest. The city boasted breathtaking architecture and great historical monuments, but our guides also explained to us the brutal impact of the World Wars and the Soviet Union’s role in damaging the city. For me, the remains of the architecture and their renovation proved to be even more fascinating since they symbolized how the Hungarians struggled and persevered. Our guides also informed us about the survival level in Hungary,  taught us how to pronounce it (which we eventually understood how to say it…sort of), challenged us with an exciting scavenger hunt around the city, treated us with delicious Hungarian specialties, and connected us with Hungarian students who are not much older than us. We also got the chance to go to a cooking school and prepare a few traditional Hungarian dishes like creamy potato soup, green pea soup, and chicken paprikash (there were a lot of paprikash in the city.) Ms. Engelke and Mr. Pipoli took us to experience the enchanting thermal baths and the magnificent parliament of Budapest. As we enjoyed the whirlpool in the baths, some physics students in the group recalled our lessons on centripetal force and rotation. We were able to understand more about the Hungarian life today.

The Budapest Model United Nations trip was truly a remarkable experience that we would never forget!