Julia Kennerley: Busting some UN myths

Sitting in on the UNESCO proceedings is a little like watching a live soap opera.  To be honest it’s a real saga - yelling, debating and an incredible amount of schmoozing.  There’s love, hate and relationship breakups - you should have seen the glares between the Philippines and the United Kingdom on Tuesday afternoon.  So, with this in mind, here are the top 5 things I’ve learnt so far: 

1. Sass = success
It seems that in order to be successful in the UN environment, a significant amount of sass in required.  Comments such as ‘if you could actually switch the microphone on’, ‘slow down, you’re speaking far too fast’ and ‘are you really sure about that?’ are commonplace.  Who knew?     

2.  The translation headphones make you feel like a pro
There’s nothing like wearing a set of translation headphones to remind you that you’re attending a UN conference.  As the delegates debate in French (or their native language), it’s pretty amazing to have a translator in your ear making their arguments intelligible. 

3.  Dress code?  Or lack thereof
When travelling, I struggle to pack at the best of times.  But prior to flying to Krakow I had absolutely no idea what to put in my suitcase.  Luckily, it turns out that the UN vibe is pretty casual.  Jeans - check.  No tie - check.  Jandals - I’ve seen a couple of pairs.  Turns out UN delegates are pretty lax. 

4.  Napping is all good
The number of people who have fallen asleep next to me in the plenary room is currently at 3 - I’ll keep you updated as it’s bound to rise.  Turns out that it’s perfectly socially acceptable to sleep during the day at UN events.  Guess it’s all those late nights and prosecco drinking under the stars at opening parties. 

5.  It’s basically a second instalment of Mean Girls
Turns out that even those at the UN are not immune to the classic high school scenario.  From what I’ve heard through the gossip grapevine, relations between different countries can be very clique-y.  Will keep you updated.

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Posted on July 6, 2017 and filed under World Heritage 2017.