Monday, 28 March 2011

Model European Union: a whole other world...

180 participants, 33 countries, one European Institution, 25 organisers, 65 hotel rooms booked in my name, 436 emails, 9 nights out in a row and over 100 euros of credit. 

After months of organisation, Model European Union 2011 has been and gone. For those reading this who are not familiar with the concept, MEU is an educational project that takes place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to educate students about the decision making process in Europe, to encourage them to integrate with their fellow European citizens, and to provide budding young politicians with the opportunity to practice their debating and diplomacy skills. It is an internationally renowned project that is growing and growing.

This year, I somehow gained the position of Head of Local Support for the project. As the only organiser living in Strasbourg, it was my job to organise anything and everything that is directly involved in Strasbourg. That meant booking hotel rooms, travel passes, restaurants, university rooms....and organising a jam packed social program. As a student project encompassing 210 18-25’s, the social aspect is vital. So at the end of the week, here are a few reflections on the experience...

Although my body is numb from exhaustion, my eyes will barely stay open and I have bruises everywhere and I don’t even know why, I feel contented at the end of this incredible week. As a team, we pulled off a successful and professional international conference that can be proud of. And I am proud. Proud of myself for taking such a big responsibility and not messing it up, proud of my team for their amazing support and for helping me with everything from cleaning tables to mopping up my tears, and most importantly proud to be a part of such a fantastic project. Everyone who has been involved since the beginning should feel proud this evening knowing that the 180 participants had a great week, learned a lot, made new friends and that the project achieved its objectives. We did good team.

My team did great. To Malin and Gaby who gave up so much of their time to be involved, I am personally grateful for your support in the project, you worked professionally and should be so proud that you were personally responsible for much of the success of the social program. You put your hearts into a project that you had never experienced and I am truly inspired by that. And on a personal level, you listened to me vent whenever I needed to, talked sense to me when I was being unreasonable, didn’t get annoyed at me if I ever snapped and mopped up my tears without asking questions. Thank you. You made local support possible, and I have made friends I will never, ever lose.

The team in general did great too. Its true that as I sit here in my room reflecting, I feel somewhat lost phone is not ringing, no one is looking for me, and theres no urgent situation that I need to deal with. And theres no smiling MEU organiser to come and make me laugh or just chat. I am not really a cheesy kind of person, and I have often kind of rejected the ‘MEU family’ line, but today I finally feel like I understand what that is. When you work so closely with so many people for so long you build a bond that is different to anything else. Its not just a working relationship, its so much more. We pull each other through hard times, we are there to celebrate each others successes and we make it great together. Thank you to each of the organisers who has been there for me and who has made this project possible. Each one of us had such a vital role to play, it needed all of us, and we did it together. And for all the times I snapped or got upset over nothing, I am sorry, I have definitely learnt that 9 nights out in a row make for short-tempered people, but even through the tiredness our friendships shone through.

There have been points in the last few months when I have asked myself WHY I was putting so much time, effort and stress into a project just for ‘the fun of it’. I’ve felt overwhelmed with the task at hand, I have found it hard to juggle my different responsibilities and I have felt isolated in a project whose organisers are living all around the world. But at the end of this week, I can see why I was right to be involved. It is a joy to see the participants having a great time, and so many people told me how much they enjoyed the program. It is great to be involved in an international conference, providing a rare and valuable work experience opportunity to so many aspiring politicians. And I have to say one of my absolute highlights of the week was organising, preparing and presenting the Charity Gala. I had great fun making my wardrobe change and auctioning the organisers. I am so thrilled (and a little astonished) that the participants of MEU 2011 donated an amazing 885.77 euros to this fantastic charity! Thank you for all who were involved (especially to my fantastic co-host, Berkay!!) 

But I have also gained personally from the experience; I have learnt better how to cope under stress, how to be more organised, that I should have confidence in my ability to manage people, that sometimes it is necessary to both obtain and to give more information and most of all I have learnt what a group of students can do when they put their minds to it. I also learnt that being overly tired makes me cry a little excessively, those that no me well know that I never cry but o my this week it didn’t take much!! As my involvement with MEU draws to a close, I need you to know it is not with bitterness. I have loved being involved and wish you all the success in the future. I am proud to be a part of the organising team of MEU 2011. We did ourselves proud.

MODEL EUROPEAN UNION 2011- A great success I am proud to have been part of with you!

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