I had a bit of an odd spring break this year. I departed a day early to perform in Georgia and Alabama with the Glee Club, spent the rest of the week with my grandparents who live outside of Atlanta, and flew back the day prior to leave expiring. So all of that was pretty standard… what made it odd was that after I unpacked from my trip down south, I simply repacked for another one! The next morning, I flew out to Rome, Italy with three other cadets, one of the humanities instructors, and her husband to compete in the week-long Harvard World Model United Nations competition. Guess who got two spring breaks for the price of one?
The Model United Nations team is one of the fastest-growing clubs at school. This time last year, it was a ragtag group of individuals piling onto a train going to New York City… now, we’ve become well-established enough to ship cadets overseas to compete. This particular conference is easily one of the most remarkable events of which I’ve been a part in my life. I worked with one of my classmates in a group simulating the United Nations’ Disarmament and International Security committee. We represented the interests of South Sudan in conversations about Violent Non-State Actors, and collaborated with about 400 other students from all across the globe to formulate mock laws facing that issue. The people who participated alongside us were from Germany, France, England, Iran, Australia, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Italy, and countless other countries. Considering that cadets aren’t even allowed to leave the base most days of the week, you can imagine what an enriching experience it was to learn about so many different places from the people who know them best! It was such an excellent place in which to learn about international politics and relations. Seeing as how there is not as much room in the science major for such study, I appreciated the practical lesson in applying and acquiring current events knowledge!
And the conference wasn’t even the end of the fun… each night, my classmates and I were able to go out and explore every corner of Rome. I won’t bore you with the extensive list of the sights we saw, but I will mention that Harvard arranged for us to hear a speech by the Pope (yes, he spoke in Italian, so I had no idea what he was saying… but it was still him, so that’s cool), the Colosseum is indeed humongous, the piazzas are pretty and plentiful, gelato is amazing, and the best part was meeting up with one of my best friends from high school! Yes, I saw my friend from quiet little Nebraska in Europe, of all places! No better person with which to watch the sun set over Rome from a beautifully sculpted terrace in the middle of the city!
It’s easy to look at the Academy and think only of all the restrictions and sacrifices you have to make to be a cadet here. No daily liberty, no deciding on my own clothes, lots of time spent on homework… And yet, because I chose to give up those little freedoms, I’ve been rewarded with the most fantastic of opportunities and chances to see so much more of the world than I ever would have at a different school. Rome was incredible, the people at the conference taught me so much, and I made a once-in-a-lifetime memory with a close friend. So I suppose in a sense, by making your world a little bit smaller, you expand it beyond anything you could expect… isn’t that funny?
More about Abby.