Youthquake!

I saw this headline on Timemagazine.com and thought how appropriate it is for me since I’m finishing up a week at THIMUN, which is a 5-day Model United Nations conference at The Hague, also where the U.N’s International Court of Justice holds court (literally a 4 minute walk from where I sit right now).

According to THIMUN’s website more than 3,200 students from 200 schools around the world take part in this training ground for our future world leaders (and God help us may it hold true that some of these kids take the reigns because we need them).  I posted what an amazing experience this was last year, and it still is because the kids truly do cut their teeth on resolutions, debates, collaboration, etc. — real-world skills that will serve them well with whatever they decide to do with their lives.

I tear up during the opening ceremony when the parade of nations takes place because for a few minutes I’m filled with hope and love for humanity’s potential — especially when guest speakers remind us we’re in a city that prides itself on peace.  Peace, people.  Unity. A reminder that we still have a chance to not royally fuck everything up.  Our babies might just save us after all.

But, I’m also here at an unsettling time.  There’s great divide not just within my country but too many to mention; there’s too much scorched or parched earth; and there’s too many forms of life dying at what seems an unnatural rate.  The earth is also shaking and spewing lava and lethal microbes at us maybe because she’s pissed, or maybe because she’s just as fickle and petty as we are.

When I’m not going in and out of committees to see what my kids are doing, I sit and chat with other teachers from around the world (no longer a novelty for me, but still very cool).  It’s dangerous when teachers have time to sip coffee while it’s warm and not have to rush for this or that.  We reflect.  We philosophize.  We share the observations we don’t normally have time to think about yet alone articulate.

A common thread among our discussions this year is that we (mankind) are changing.  It’s visible in us and our young.  There’s more arrogance, more tuning out, more reactive versus proactive, more feed me now Seymour! Even here where open mindedness and compromise is at the root of all we do, too many times we ally to win our side for the sake of winning versus what might be in the best interest of most (although perhaps that’s always been the case).

This trip takes up a lot of my time, and it causes me a whole lot of stress.  There are all the arrangements and meetings that need to be made before we go, and then while we’re here I, and the other adults with me, are responsible for the safety and well being of someone else’s teenagers while being in a bustling city with thousands of other teens — all excited to be a part of this, and all wanting to have a little parent-free fun. I’m on guard from the minute I wake until the minute I finally pass out, and I’m always fully aware that I am a role model, so I need to practice what I preach alllllllllll day long (it’s hard being a model citizen when you’re normally such a sinner after-hours).

There’s teen angst, bravado, drama, anxiety, etc. etc. etc.  LOL there’s adult drama too.  And, I cannot tell you how many times I ask myself why in the hell am I doing this? Especially when a kid decides to test things and make me feel small for doing my job (although most of the time that’s not the case).  Shit happens while we’re here, and I have to help them (and me) deal with it.  It’s exhausting and not rewarding in the sense of recognition or money.  But, it does so feed and warm my soul when a kid gets it (maybe just for half a second) that holy shit my voice IS power.  Of course that’s after hours of not getting called upon, but that too is valuable — most of the time we are not heard, or not given the chance, or perhaps on this particular thing it’s better off silent, but we have to keep trying, right?

I doubt I’ll do this again next year because a week away is taxing on the job front for me as well as personally.  It’s just a lot, but I will make sure that this thing continues. It will be a success no matter who is managing it.  And, it does have to keep going.

You see there’s this virus going around that we’re all terrified of catching.  We adults are on alert.  The Hague is on alert with medical staff on standby should we need them.  I told my friends that if I ended up on lockdown at this conference with all of these kids my head would explode.

Then we got here and realized we were sharing our hotel hallway with a school from Shanghai.  I thought “oh shit, are you kidding me?”  I don’t know what my kids thought, but their actions were all positive — from inviting our neighbors to take part in our hallway games to socializing when we run into each other at dinner outings.  They don’t care where anyone is from or what they might represent (at least for now; pray the world doesn’t taint them tomorrow).

And that is after all what this is all about.  If we adults don’t keep ensuring that our kids are exposed to at least mock humanity (with real world actions on their part) then what good are we?  So go all you little debaters out there, keep doing your thing, but remember this is your training to spread some good when you shed your childhood and take on your adulthood.  Your species depends on it.

p.s. and don’t worry about my whine about my lost free time; my husband has a good bottle of red breathing for me when I get home Friday night.  Humdullah my sinning will commence.

p.s.s. If you’re interested in seeing more about the actual conference you can read about it by clicking here.

Posted on January 30, 2020, in Belgium Year three and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Awww thanks Linda, and they so have an impact on me. I’m a lucky soul who gets to continually learn and grow with them (lol albeit sometimes it’s painful). Totally enjoying my youth free Saturday too.

    Like

  2. Linda Bailey Zimmerman

    Bettina you are a rock star!!
    You are having a terrific impact on your students lives!!
    Here’s to a Friday night Joe n wine reunion!!

    Like

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