Adapting PANAMUN Post-Pandemic
by Merceditas Rios
2020 has been a year permeated by the constant sensation of uncertainty and panic. It occasioned fear, grief, rage, and a long-lasting impact within ourselves and our community; as well as our ability as humans to interact and communicate with one another.
However, the International School of Panama has fought to overcome these disadvantages and overcome this together, only meaning to look forward. PANAMUN, one of ISP’S most cherished and awaited annual traditions, has been one of the most significant and challenging activities to adapt; due to the fact that it previously relied entirely on physical debates and interactions among students.
In order to investigate and understand more about the growth and changes within PANAMUN XXVIII and XXIX, it is necessary to see them through the eyes of someone that has had high authority and influence in both of these conferences. This interview was directed to Gabriela Edwards, a Senior Chair in the committee CCPCJ, she will be speaking further on her experience on PANAMUN these last two years and the shift between online and in-person conferences.
R: Could you tell us a little about your personal role and experience in PANAMUN?
G: I’m a middle school chair in the committee CCPCJ. My responsibilities are conducting and guiding the middle school delegates, as well as helping them to moderate the debate in a way that respectful and organized. This is my first year as a Chair so I’ve found this experience to be quite interesting and engaging, and this is my fifth year participating in PANAMUN.
R: Speaking through your own experience, what would you consider to be one of the most crucial features or aspects in PANAMUN?
G: My personal favorite aspect of PANAMUN is the personal speeches, as there never is one like the other. They’re always changing and granting everyone entirely different perspectives. From my personal experience, I believe that the best way to stay updated and have an easier and more fulfilling experience in PANAMUN, is essential to listen and take notes of personal speeches. They will allow you to a better understanding of the country’s demands and necessities and therefore a better understanding of the overall conflict. Even as a chair, there is still so much to learn and further understand in each one of the speeches.
R: Would you consider that the authorities of last year succeeded in transforming and adapting PANAMUN online?
G: I definitely believe that it was definitely a compelling change, one that took much time and effort than what was originally expected. Last year’s team did a wonderful job in managing and working on solving the crisis and obstacles given by the limitations of technology. Still, this was an incredible chance to further adapt and develop this conference, making it furthermore approachable and engaging towards outside students. Overall, they did an excellent job overall, and it was a very fascinating conference that will never be forgotten.
R: Were there any conflicts or obstacles to adapting PANAMUN entirely online? Were these conflicts easier to overcome when adapting PANAMUN back in person?
G: I think the act of adapting a conference as extensive and complex as PANAMUN is very challenging, and the process of adapting PANAMUN back in person is no exception. It requires a lot of mixing of tools and mediums used in the traditional PANAMUN conferences, as well as the traditional strategic formula. We all believe that the secretary has done an incredible job adapting PANAMUN back in person.
R: What were some approaches that this year’s team worked on in order to properly redirect PANAMUN as an in-person experience?
G: Well, there were shifts within the community itself, as to how the rooms are structured, the way delegates speak to the podium and address their fellow companions as well as the overall atmosphere in each committee. It’s definitely different but exciting, as it’s in these details that as a student we can understand the amount of work, discipline, and devotion that our secretariat has had in this conference.
R: What is one piece of advice that you would give to our newest participants and those who have only had their experience of PANAMUN virtually?
G: My biggest advice to all participants is to listen very carefully, and pay attention to every single detail of the opening speeches, presentations, and opinions of their fellow delegates. PANAMUN is an entirely different experience when you know and understand everyone’s position and perspective. It’s essential to always remember how these challenges are opportunities for our community to further understand and develop our conference.