By Ernest Lee (17A01A), Chairperson, Wei Jun (17A01A), Vice-Chairperson, and Sumana Prasad (17A01B), Vice-Chairperson
On the 13th of August, 2016, one of our EXCO members was kidnapped. Our plucky Head of Welfare had been taken by hostile members of a foreign country, and forcibly detained for a good number of hours until a prisoner of suitable calibre was exchanged.
An occupational hazard? Here at the History and Strategic Affairs Society (or HSTA for short), we call this a crisis council. Armed with extensive research, wits and an even greater deal of post-its, members of our club trot bravely into conferences, all with different goals. Our aforementioned EXCO member had been roleplaying as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, tackling issues of national security as part of our ministerial cabinets. More often than not, others are sent as delegates of countries to the United Nations General Assembly, European Union, or other similar councils.
Key issues are discussed- What do we do about genocide denial? Why Brexit? What do models of conflict resolution in postcolonial Africa look like? Where does the T in HSTA come from?
You also get to do this dressed in a suit. Conferences aren’t all about intellectualizing: there’s a wide range of social activities, ranging from a private romp in the Flower Dome to the standard Dinner and Dances- all at the end of your three or four days of sounding smart.
Along the way, you will pick up many useful skills, in accordance with our fulfilment of the Cognitive domain of the Raffles Diploma. They range from the ‘hard’: legalistic principles about international law, order and justice, to the ‘soft’: how and what makes people talk. You will definitely become a more thoughtful individual, one who’s engaging to others and engaged around the world.
To make up for all the times we win awards at other conferences (including a total of 4 Best Delegation Awards in 2016), we host our own flagship conference: Raffles Model United Nations, held every June. This has the secondary goal of nurturing holistic individuals, and to equip them to be confident, curious and caring about the world and its affairs. Attracting more than 250 participants, RMUN provides CCA members with flexibility over the topics discussed in council, how they moderate such discussions, and even a small say in the caterer.
Our weekly CCA sessions (every Wednesday, 2.30pm-5.30pm) involve rigorous yet fun simulations of MUN councils, that often contain a rather unhealthy dose of banter. Do not fear if you have never MUNned before – our very talented and capable Academics team conduct regular trainings during sessions, ensuring that every member is confident with the Rules of Procedure and MUN tactics.
But our CCA sessions don’t just stop at simulations and trainings. HSTA service initiatives such as Step Up, Speak Out! involve collaborations with childcare centres to inculcate oratory skills amongst underprivileged primary school students. Internal HSTA welfare initiatives include a post-RMUN celebratory CCA session, which usually consists of lots of food (think 5 different types of cake) and a movie session, and our annual HSTA camp – this year’s camp included a mock-crisis council simulating the beginning of World War II, a late-night game of Diplomacy and an outing to the National Museum.
All in all, if you join our club, you will gain immense knowledge about the world, current affairs and geopolitical realities. But above all you will get to make fantastic friends in the club and also mingle with other like-minded people beyond the school. So don’t Hesitate to Stop and Think about this Adventure!