Well it didn’t take long for one of my 2017 objectives to fall by the wayside did it?
Only a few short weeks ago I mentioned my “desire and determination ” to blog on a weekly basis and here we are only the second month in and I have missed two deadlines. It’s not that I don’t have a valid excuse, it’s that time of year when my regular followers will recall, that I take students on a school trip to The Hague in The Netherlands to attend THIMUN a huge Model United Nations Conference.
This year my colleague, Mark and I had made the decision to make a few changes to our usual itinerary. We decided to change the venue that we usually stay in during the conference, and also to spend a couple of days in Amsterdam at the very beginning of the trip, prior to the Conference. In principle and in practice this was definitely an excellent decision, however, looking after eleven teenagers in one of the party capitals of Europe is never going to be easy. We had a very packed schedule planned already. So I was slightly taken aback when on the morning of the day that we were leaving for the Netherlands, I was approached by a couple of students who told me that they had been doing a bit of research, and had discovered that the Canadian rapper Drake was in concert in Amsterdam on the Saturday evening, could I try and get tickets!
I discussed this with my colleague and we decided that we would try and get tickets as there was some wiggle room in the budget. It was a very stressful experience as I wasn’t able to buy the tickets in one group and having managed to buy four tickets, I had to cross my fingers that I would be able to get the remaining seven. Luck was very much on my side and by the time we left for the airport I had eleven tickets, which to the students were the most valuable cargo of all, and I was the coolest teacher on earth (for 24 hrs anyway) .
This years group was the biggest I had taken to THIMUN and as soon as we arrived in Amsterdam, after freshening up, we hit the sights. Our first experience was to cross the river to A’DAM Lookout, it was really exciting but not for people who don’t really like heights (people like me!). A’DAM Lookout is a high rise building that houses a rotating restaurant (you must book in advance for this), a bar and restaurant and on the roof sits “Over the Edge”a swing, that swings out over the city. I’m not a fan of heights, but as some of the students were also a bit nervous, I felt I had to overcome my fears and take my seat along with everyone else. It was busy that afternoon and very cold on the roof, but we all took part and really enjoyed it.
We came down from this experience and everyone was feeling a bit peckish. One thing I already knew was that it would not be easy to feed so many people without a prior booking. Fortunately for use we went to The Eye Film Museum as we had heard that they had an excellent restaurant there and it was right opposite A’DAM Lookout.
The Maitre’de was so kind and told us that as long as we only ordered a main course and took no longer than 90 minutes he could accommodate us. We complied and ate a delicious meal in a really nice environment which also housed some pretty cool lighting, and you know how I love my lights.
The next day was very busy with a tour of the Rijks Museum. This has been an annual pilgrimage to the IAmsterdam sign for the group photo. This was the first year however, that we had stepped inside, and I sorely regretted that I hadn’t included it sooner. We had the most knowledgeable guide, Arnold, who helped all of us to understand Rembrandt and some of the other important artists displayed there.
Then we headed off to the Anne Frank Huis which is always on our itinerary. After a quick bite to eat at Wagamama, we headed back to the Museum Quarter to visit the Van Gogh Museum. I had been really looking forward to this and the guide was excellent. However, it became apparent to me that the work of his that I like the most, I had already seen in an exhibition in Paris, France, a few years ago. This museum contains a lot of his darker work. Of course Saturday evening was given up to Drake and his appearance at the Ziggo Dome. My colleague Mark and I decided not to go and see Drake and instead went to the movies (a bad decision it turned out) and then waited for the students at the end of the concert for the train ride home. That was a very noisy train ride with all of the students discussing various parts of the concert, and sharing their pictures. I was sure that it was going to be an experience they were not going to forget in a hurry.
Sunday morning and we had to be out of our rooms and at the coach stop by ten a.m. There was an element of excitement as we were about to experience the Room of Riddles. This is an escape room and something that we regularly include as it is so popular with the students. Unfortunately my team came second again, but we enjoyed it all the same. The coach trip to our hotel was a very quiet affair with the students taking advantage of the journey to have a quick nap.
This year we decided to change the place that we stayed in for the duration of the conference. I chose the Bilderberg Europa Hotel in Scheveningen, which also sits on the North Sea coast as our previous hotel at Kijkduin had done. But apparently a lot more of the conference delegates stayed there. I hoped that this would encourage my students to network more and for the majority of them this was certainly the case. We decided to travel into The Hague to register for the conference and then returned back to Scheveningen for dinner and an early night.
After a lovely breakfast for some, it became apparent that this group had difficulty with time management and I regret to say that it didn’t improve much over the course of the week!
Our group headed off by tram to the World Forum in The Hague where the students were the Delegation of Fiji.
It was a very exciting conference and the students did so well, with all of them managing to speak at some stage, this is no mean feat when you consider that there are about 3000 students taking part. It is very exhausting for the MUN Directors though, as we try and see all our students in their respective rooms and the more students that we take the more rooms we have to visit. this resulted in my Fitbit registering up to 15km a day.
The Wednesday of THIMUN week is always a half day and coach trips are arranged so that delegates can go and visit local tourist sites. I long ago learned, that a lot of time is wasted, waiting for other delegations to arrive at the coaches so that we can leave. I therefore now organise my own trip, and with a growing interest among our students on studying in the Netherlands we set off by train to Erasmus University College, Rotterdam. One of my students is keen to study Architecture and so this City was of great interest as most of it was bombed in World War Two and so the buildings are a mish mash of old and new. We took a tour of Erasmus University College and the main Erasmus campus.
We came back through the main market area where Markthal is situated. this is an iconic building which houses food stalls, but is also accommodation for some lucky people. I would love to see inside an apartment there as the windows are placed in very weird positions. The food stalls are superb and I could feel the pounds piling on just walking through the market.
Last year the THIMUN Board introduced an international photography competition and a student from my school attained second place. This year the theme was “Borders in a Globalised World” three of my students entered, and all of them placed in the top four visitors choice. However, the much coveted judges choice also went to one of our students.
So I think you can say the conference was a resounding success.
On Saturday we took a really good tour with Segway Den Haag where we learned how to ride a Segway and then we did a tour of The Hague on the Segway. It was a lot of fun and I managed to stay on most of the time. We then had hot chocolate, and pancakes, and toasties at The Pavilion, Malieveld. Then it was back to the hotel to collect our backs and homeward bound.
Now you may be wondering if I was able to visit The Hague and not visit some of my favourite fabric and craft shops. Don’t be silly.
So a lovely time was had by all and we have returned to school, tired but excited at the adventures we had.
I just need to find some time to quilt now! Phew!!