Learning

AC MUN 2012 – Part 4

The 2012 edition of the annual Atlantic College Model United Nations conference was hosted last weekend. I was part of a gang of 5 that took up the task of organizing the conference, which had some 350 attendees. I had a sorta dual focus during organization of AC MUN 2012. On the one hand I handled most of the administrative tasks; the massive task of allocating all attendees to the right country and committee etc, talking to teachers to get rooms for committees, the website as well as a few other bits and pieces here and there. On the other hand, I also kept an overview of the conference, make sure that things were being finished.

Organizing the conference began well back in March when we learnt we had been given the mammoth task. Nonetheless, the pressure didn’t seriously turn on until we came back after Christmas. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best thing, but oh well. Although there were some frantic days and nights, we did manage to pull everything together and by-in-large I think the conference went better than it did last year. Of course, there are always areas we can improve on and getting prepared earlier is definitely one of them.

All in all though, AC MUN 2012 was fun and largely went quite well. Please, and now it’s time to catch-up on some sleep.

AC MUN 2012 – Part 3

One of the most interesting aspects of Model United Nations is the use of notes. At HKMUN where I started, we had internet access during the conference, which made communication quite easy. Nevertheless, we still had a significant amount of odd notes that got passed around, with the usual flirting as well as just odd notes. It was at HKMUN that I got into the practice of picking up all my notes just in case the Press Corp ever picked up anything. This time, at AC MUN 2012, I was not a delegate, so I made an effort of going round to pick up notes lying around. Some of the notes were published in MUNk, the Press Corp’s publication. There are of course numerous serious notes, but here’s a cool collection of those that haven’t been published which I found interesting nevertheless.
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AC MUN 2012 – Part 2

The 2012 edition of the annual Atlantic College Model United Nations conference was hosted last weekend. Since I was organizing the conference, I wasn’t able to spend as much time in committee as I wanted to. Though on Saturday I got a full dose as I ended up co-chairing the Crisis committee. We simulated Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz (thanks RCNMUN 2012) and I realized in the process of making the news articles the evening before that the situation wasn’t that stimulative as one might have thought. It mostly consisted of copying and pasting a news article and changing words like threaten to have. That was all it took. A few word changes and the world could be up in smokes. What if a real news aggregator mistyped or accidentally sent out the news that Iran had closed the Strait of Hormuz?

The crisis committee itself was fun. I ended up creating a few extra news reports than I had anticipated. I had some other stuff to sort out after lunch, but I did go back to the crisis committee about half an hour before it finished, and ended up being North Korea, introduced a few ‘interesting’ clauses and then headed off to the closing ceremony. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a crisis committee (the simulation sort, not the ‘we only knew about the topic today’ sort) so not a bad first introduction overall.

AC MUN 2012 – Part 1

The 2012 edition of the annual Atlantic College Model United Nations conference was hosted last weekend. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights for me was that we had a significant number of students from outside Atlantic College who attended the conference.

Improving on last year’s conference, the gang of 5 students who set out to organize the conference had decided that we really wanted the opportunity for other UWC students to experience MUN at AC at the same time as we hoped to attend MUN conference at other UWCs. So I was overjoyed when we learnt we would not only have 15 students from Llantwit Major and North Liverpool Academy, but that we’d also have 5 students each from UWC Maastricht and UWC Adriatic.

If nothing else, I think the possibility of experiencing a little bit of life at another UWC is a benefit in itself, let alone being able to partake in Model United Nations at the same time. I know for a fact that I enjoyed visiting UWC Adriatic as much as I enjoyed AdMUN (1,2,3,4,5) itself. The fact that I posted as much about being and going to UWC Adriatic as I did about AdMUN is testimony to that fact.

TEDxYouth@Bath: The Guardian Report

Just got back from TEDxYouth@Bath. Haven’t had time yet to really write much on it, it has definently be a worthwhile experience. But the first thing to catch my eye was The Guardian report on the event. Here it is, complete with a photo of a UWC Atlantic College student!

Photograph: Stephen Shepherd for the Guardian

Over a buffet lunch a huddle of teenagers is trying to work out if any have yet had their “ah-ha” moment – the instant when an inspiring, perhaps life-changing thought hits.

Across the room at the TEDxYouthDay event in Bath other young people are discussing the meaning of happiness with a bright-eyed adventurer who gave up his nine-to-five job to skateboard across Australia. More than 100 teenagers are crammed into a theatre in the Georgian city to hear talks from artists, entrepreneurs, travellers of all sorts who, organisers hope, will help them shape their lives.

“We’re learning more today than we would at a normal day at school. It’s opened our eyes,” says Indra, 16. “Usually when you go to talks it’s about being a doctor or accountant or something. Here we’re talking about jobs you’ve never even heard of and thinking about concepts that aren’t tangible – that you feel but haven’t got a name for.”

The TED (Technology Entertainment Design) concept appears unstoppable after beginning as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago. It became an annual event to which the world’s leading “thinkers and doers” are invited. They speak for no more than 18 minutes and the best “TEDtalks” are posted on the TED website. Bill Gates and Al Gore have contributed.
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Hong Kong attempts sham elections

A lot of people confuse Hong Kong’s political system with that of China’s, assuming that Hong Kong is just another reclusive, facebook-less, Chinese city. Indeed, we like to think of ourselves as otherwise, but at the current rate, Hong Kong might just well turn into just another undemocratic Chinese city. I’m referring to of course, the HK Government’s new plans to scrap Legislative Council by-elections and replace them with some odd system whereby the next-best-placed candidate in the original elections would automatically be offered empty seats, thereby doing away with the need to hold by-elections.

The Government hasn’t even attempted to think of an illogical excuse for this move, happily admitting that such a move is in response to the so called ‘de-facto referendum’ triggered in January last year after five Civic Party and League of Social Democrats lawmakers resigned. At the time, most other main political parties did not put up candidates, and all five were voted back into office. The turnout was just 17.1 per cent and the government said the by-election, which cost HK$126 million, had been unnecessary, thus warranting it’s newest proposal.
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Home!

Most trips home take quite a while, but this might end up being the longest of them all, mostly thanks to a 7.5 hour wait at Heathrow Airport. Thankfully, the lovely company of those of us who stayed at Heathrow waiting for our flights helped make the time pass much faster. The various movies, videos and DVDs certainly helped. My final CX flight for the immediate future eventually left at 6:55pm and landed 12 hours later in HK at 1pm local.

The flight itself was pretty normal, consisting of lots of movies and food. I did get extra space since the middle seat had no-one in it. I also finally completed my ‘5 movies in a flight’ challenge, successfully fitting in five movies and two TV shows. TRON: Legacy wasn’t a bad movie, but a little bland. The Green Hornet was quite good and so was The Kings Speech although I’m not convinced it was automatically Oscar worthy. The Mechanic and Mission Impossible were both reasonable but I got a little lost with the plot of Mission Impossible. Perhaps I was getting a little tired myself. With still some time left, I managed to squeeze in an episode of The Mentalist and TVB’s My 2010 ~ neither was that spectacular.

I must have been pretty drained from all that movie watching, IB and having stayed awake for nearly 24 hours because I promptly collapsed and enjoyed 12 beautiful uninterrupted hours of sleep after I got home.

I’ve had a week of ‘rest’, essentially doing absolutely nothing. So now it’s back to work until school starts again in August. What a lovely summer holiday 😀 At least I’m home!

Tabbing Software

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular currently available debate tabbing software.

  • Human Tab
  • Tabbie
  • Tabulator
  • TRPC
  • TRIEPC
  • PlusTab 2
  • Tabroom.com
  • Zorro
  • Joy of Tournaments
  • General Tabbing Resources

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Hong Kong Schools Debating Council

Dear Debaters,

I must first apologies for this late announcement. Last night was hectic to say the least as we worked to get the website for The Hong Kong Schools Debating Council (HKSDC) up and run. I must thank my counterpart Heather Pickerell who was very helpful in its creation. You can now see the official Home of Hong Kong Debating at http://hksdc.wordpress.com/.

Registration

One of the goals of the Hong Kong School’s Debating Council is to increase communication amongst the student debating community, and we aim to do this by creating a network of interested debaters, teachers, coaches, adjudicators and associates.

It is our intention that this basic contact information will facilitate us in contacting you about upcoming events and debating news. HKSDC assures that all contact information will be kept confidential and used strictly for HKSDC communication purposes only within this organisation.

You can register under one of the following categories :

  • Schools
  • Individual Teachers in member schools who are involved in debating
  • Individual Students
  • Associate members – ex individual teachers and students plus those able to contribute expertise from universities (usually ex school debaters) or other fields

Please note, that Form 1-3 or Years 7-9 are Junior whilst Form 4-6 and Years 10-13 are Senior.

Click here to register

HKSDC

A few words about HKSDC (http://hksdc.wordpress.com/about/) :

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Why the US shouldn’t pressure China on currency issues

US China Currency US-Chinese relations have been rocky at best and outright hostile at times. The Chinese got pissed of at the US’s decision to sell military arms to Taiwan and then at Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama. Then there was the row over censorship in the wake of Google’s pull out. The latest spat has been over China’s supposedly undervalued currency. To be fair, there is an almost unanimous international consensus that the RMB is undervalued. This however is irrelevant. Regardless of this, the US should not be trying to pressure China for a RMB rise.

First, those who are calling for the move are hardly reliable. Sure, they have their share of Nobel economists and awards. But muddled amongst their claims were that China and Hong Kong were both currency manipulators. C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think-tank in United States said in a Congress hearing that

“Several neighboring Asian countries of considerable economic significance — Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan — maintain currency undervaluations of roughly the same magnitude in order to avoid losing competitive position to China.”

True, Hong Kong has a peg to the USD since 1983, and the government has had to control the currency to maintain that peg, but maintaining a peg is hardly currency manipulation. And if a peg is to be maintained, its rather difficult to manipulate a pegged currency! The total irony of it all is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner paid a visit to Donald Tsang and other prominent financial people during his stopover in Hong Kong just this week. The HKD-USD peg has been around for almost 30 years, as long as Bergsten has been out of the government and out of touch with reality. John Tsang, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong put it quite nicely :

“This is a sign of rising protectionism and this kind of absurd voice will continue to be heard. Hong Kong’s peg to the U.S. dollar has been in effect for over two decades, how could we have manipulated our currency in that period?”

Even if we assume their claims are correct, what’s the real problem? Is the US-China trade imbalance a result of currency manipulation or a more fundamental issue with the US economy? Understandably, the currency plays a part, but the underlying problem is not the RMB but the lost of competitiveness of US products. Made in US just isn’t that cool or in demand anymore. US goods are expensive in comparison to almost all countries, that’s the underlying problem. Changing the RMB value won’t change the price of US products. Until something is done, the trade imbalance will still occur.

There really is no better indicator of the US’s lack of competitiveness than the fact that a trade imbalance would occur even if the RMB raised its value. Many Chinese goods would still be cheaper than US goods. Even if they aren’t US goods won’t be the cheapest because Indonesia, South east Asia, India, Brazil and other countries will still be cheaper than Made in US. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s multilateral merchandise surplus of $212bn in 2008 dwarfs China’s $175bn surplus. Has the US cried about Saudi Arabia? No. It wants the oil. Would RMB revaluation do anything to the Saudi Arabian surplus? No. What does Bergsten want to do then? Ban all foreign goods?

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