Teun van den Maagdenberg
The people, the people and the people. Those are the three reasons to sign up for the Delegation. And, therefore, what sums up my wonderful year in the program.
Almost by accident, I stumbled upon the United Netherlands Delegation in an e-mail. I was busy at that moment and didn’t think much about it until two weeks later, when I looked up the program again on the website. Academic courses, skills-training, social connections with like-minded people and two trips abroad; what’s not to like? I enrolled, put on my best suit and after a few intense selection rounds, I was a proud member of the 15th Delegation.
Now, looking back, I can honestly say that opening the website again after two weeks is the smartest decision I’ve made in the past year. The program is evenly balanced between skills-training, academic knowledge and practicing diplomacy. It taught us to passionately speak about all types of topics and made us always ready to speak. It was very entertaining to see the different metaphors, stories and punchlines that everyone came up with. With the academic part, I got a good understanding of the basics of political science and in doing research for Oxford and Harvard, I became an expert in the NATO and the political history of the Ottoman Empire. Also, visits to institutions both in the Netherlands and in New York gave a beautiful inside to the intricate world of diplomacy.
But by far, the best part of this journey, were the people involved. The student-teachers who passionately helped me throughout the year, the interesting people I’ve met at the conferences and, most of all, my own delegation. By now, a group of people, I can call my friends. Every Friday, we studied, negotiated, listened to speeches, gave feedback and worked hard to improve ourselves. And at the end of the day, we went out for dinner and a beer or two and really got to know each other. The memories I keep from the endless conversations we’ve had in all those cities in the Netherlands and around the world -wherever the program brings you-, are truly what makes the Delegation priceless. I can only recommend for you to sign up and see for yourself!