I’ve always been on the other side of the desk, trying to focus my attention on the professor while scribbling notes at the same time. So as I stepped into the second floor classroom of Hangzhou Entel Foreign Language School, I was a bit nervous. I found myself facing a group of 14-16 year old wide-eyed girls and boys, all intent to learn more about Paper Writing in Model United Nations. We covered position papers, working papers, amendments, resolutions, notes and basic rules of procedure among other things. But at the end of the 4-day session, the students had forged beautiful friendships not only amongst themselves, but with their Teaching Assistants and Facilitators.
I was amazed to see the dedication and level of hard work in my students. When they were not practicing writing papers, they were asking insightful questions about education in the United States, the college process, life in Pakistan and our experiences. Since we were living in a hotel not too far from the school, we used to have lunch and dinner with our students and learned more about their lives and interests. A lot of them like Harry Potter, which was an instant hit with me and the other teachers. They also told us they liked Taylor Swift, and when word got out that Michael, their Public Speaking teacher, and I could sing, they insisted that we sing for them, and so we ended up with a cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. Of course, the students wanted more and got Jordan and Kelsey, their teachers for Reading and Research and Lobbying and Negotiation, to sing for them too.
I ended up with a Harry Potter workshop, a BU panel and a workshop on Pakistan. One of my favorite questions was “what do you eat food with? Do you use chopsticks?”, and so I told them about roti, naan and how most food is traditionally eaten with your hands. Another popular question was, how do you say “I love you” in Urdu, and to that I had to tell them a rather difficult “mein tum se pyar kerti/a hoon”, but they got the basics.
Closing ceremonies were an emotional time, with the TAs telling heart-wrenching stories of personal growth and experiences, and students saying tearful goodbyes to us as they promised to keep in touch over Skype and email. We took pictures, did the Green Light Dance one final time, and hoped to have passed on a little MUN love to our students.