SMUN 2014

Whew!

That was some ride.

I’m glad I decided to do the reflections on SMUN ’14 two days after the event actually ended. The annoyance and frustration that threatened to boil over plenty of times still simmered within, and only with ample rest and other things distracting me, did I manage to adjust my view of SMUN to a more objective one.

I can’t say that it was a great event on a personal level. Bogged down by covering Logistics and Events, it was a miracle we managed to make it through the event without hiccups on that front. Given that we were a 4-man team, often down to 3 or even 2 men, it was quite a feat from my perspective.

As part of the Events Committee, it’s obvious that I should first reflect upon what Events had been tasked to do. We were handed the opening/closing ceremonies, and the social night for SMUN. The planning stage started early during the semester, but tapered off as school became the priority. Only after the exams did we really sink our teeth into the planning, but by then it was getting really close to the event proper.

We were lucky to be able to get Kent Ridge Guild House for the social night for a great price, but the logistical needs of the ceremonies left much to be desired. With a limited budget, we can only do so little to get the things we needed, or hire the help for the ceremonies. And as with all events, problems kept cropping up, such as AV issues and having to beautify a functional stage.

The opening ceremony went off with little to no hitches, other than a lot of physical labour. Social night was not so, with a huge problem regarding the bag deposit plan we had enacted, but failed miserably due to a lack of manpower. The event itself wasn’t a huge blast either, but given the time constraints we had, I think we were pretty faultless in its execution.

Finally, the closing ceremony. What. A. Nightmare. A very late GOH, miscues, missing manpower, AV problems…the list went on. I’m surprised we made it out of there without calling it a non-failure. Given that the closing ceremony was under my jurisdiction, I felt responsible for its lack of success. But with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that if there is fault to be apportioned, I’m not the sole person to blame.

So that’s the Events stuff. Can’t say it’s very much different from other events I’ve done, apart from the crippling lack of manpower and the litany of problems that wrecked the closing ceremony. Otherwise, it was all pretty standard fare IMO.

No, what really killed me and the rest of the Events Comm was covering logistics. Without a dedicated Logs Comm (which was effectively non-existent a few weeks before SMUN), we had to cover all the logistical needs of a 260-delegate, 4-day event. From packing goodie bags to lugging them across NUS, it was all done by a few people.

Unsurprisingly, given that I have pushed aside other commitments to deal with SMUN until it was over, I was pretty much there for every logistical movement. Which was hell on earth, as we moved a ton of logs here and there. The pre-opening ceremony period was particularly insane, with just 3 people moving 250 goodie bags across UTown. It may not sound like a lot at first, but the physical exertion really takes a toll.

Then it was just a heck of a lot of running around to ferry things around UTown. The lack of sleep from preparing logs didn’t help either. At the end of the event, my feet were blistered and my shins ached with every step I took. But we made it, somehow.

Did I gain any satisfaction from completing SMUN relatively successfully? Not really. I never really got the satisfaction from planning events since my very first one, AYC ’09. After that was just firefight after firefight, as the organising committee had to deal with all sorts of problems. At the end of each event, there was just a sense of relief and exhaustion, and satisfaction was at a premium.

SMUN ’14 wasn’t particularly good, even compared to some of my worst experiences. It’s probably the physical toll that it took on me; I’ve never had so much to do for an event before. Well, at least now I know what I’m capable of.

But of course, one of the main things that happen during such events is the meeting of people. And while I shall not elaborate too much on the people I found annoyance with, let’s just say that they were targets of expletives during the more intense moments of executing SMUN.

But with the bad comes the good. I can’t stress how much respect I have for Andy, my Events Director and a good friend. He tanked so much work every night that when we woke up early to prepare for the day’s activities, we often found him snoozing from exhaustion. I think I lashed out at him once or twice during the event, when we were all stressed and really tired. But he took it in stride, continued to thank us for our efforts, and I have massive, massive respect for him.

Others include Cheryl, our Secretary-General. She was somehow more sprightly than all of us despite having less sleep, always ready to offer help even when she had little time outside of her other duties. Without her, the 4 guys in the Events Comm would have been pretty screwed when it came to doing artistic stuff for the social night. Her passion and dedication to the event was clear to see, and I’m glad to have worked for and with her in this event.

The rest of the Events team deserves kudos too. Shawn was there most of the time, a great source of idle chitchat that helped make the event go by much faster and better. He was also always there to help with the logistical work, and that saved Andy and I a ton of work. Ping Liang, affectionately known as TPL, was hamstrung by his internship, but while I during the event, I might have resented his lack of presence a little, I could easily recognise the pains he took to try and make the social night a success. His constant fretting over how it was going to turn out, the apologies for when things didn’t go well…I can’t resent sincerity like that.

Beyond them, I met Jonathan and Shaun. Shaun was eternally busy doing all sorts of things, and totally deserved his 5 lanyards with his numerous positions within the planning committee. Jonathan is a very intelligent person who has plenty of advice and opinions that have helped with how we executed the event. Without him, I think the Events Comm would have been happy just to get the event over with, instead of trying to make it good.

These were the people I interacted with the most, and I’m glad to have worked with them throughout SMUN ’14. Other than them, the Sponsorship Director, Cheryl Ng, was a chirpy, bubbly individual who was always asking whether she could help, and did so until bedtime. The rest of the organising committee were mostly Acad people, and so we had few interactions beyond hellos and me passing them draft resolutions and working papers hot off the press.

In the end, do I really care that Events seems a bit secluded and insular? Not really. We all had our jobs, and we did them to our best ability. I’ve learnt to an even greater degree that there are all sorts of people in this world, all with different attitudes towards life, work, duty, and responsibility. And I’m glad I came out of the event with a greater appreciation for the dirty work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s one of the reasons why I’m always doing Ops related stuff in events.

And I guess when the next event rolls around, I might end up doing that sort of thing again.

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