Sean Penn among the diplmats
If you saw The Interpreter (I didn’t), you probably saw those weird white thingies hanging off the ears of exotically dressed dignitaries.
I have now worn one. Two, in fact, at informal consultations on the draft resolution that South Korea is pushing in the General Assembly. I won’t go into too much detail on the technicalities, both because they’re boring and because I’m not sure it wouldn’t be some sort of diplomatic no-no, but I will say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my exposure to the process of negotiating and hashing out a text at the UN.
My responsibility has been to type changes to the draft text into a laptop, on the fly, so the delegates can squint at the changes projected on the screen at the front of the room. This is sometimes challenging when the delegates mutter in accents, but that’s where the ear thingies come in handy. I always thought of them as being for translation, but they’re also handy just to amplify speech, and I’m sure it will satisfy the budget hawks among my readers to know that there’s a sound person in a booth at every single meeting in every single conference room at the UN whose job it is to switch people’s mics on and off when they forget. And the efficiency experts among you will likewise be thrilled to discover that conference room reservations and sound are handled by one department, projectors by another.
In any case, working in the conference rooms at the UN feels weirdly like being in a well-funded middle school circa the late 1970s. Except the crowd in the cafeteria is cooler.