WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATION AWARD FOR BEST MEMORIAL FOR THE APPLICANT AND THE RESPONDENT
In the dead on the Scandinavian winter, our team was assembled and it was quite a contrast to start reading about the sunny straits of Somalia. We dove head on into the materials and the research. Most of our time was spent at the four seats in the law library that soon became more or less ear-marked for us (since we were allowed by the librarians to leave our stacks of books over night) and the rest of the time we were crammed up in our coach’s tiny office, going back and forth among the arguments. Those months, while painstaking and hard work, were very rewarding. It was a great experience to be able to devote so much time to a single scenario – and such a complex and contemporary issue, at that!
We worked very hard on our memorials and had many long discussions – not to say heated debates – on structure, clarity, choice of words, interpretations and even grammar! We had the blessing of being a very diverse team, and each member has not only personality, but also skills and experiences that were irreplaceable. We were four souls, but together we were like one entity. One team member was very strong in developing creative arguments. Another could help ensure a high quality of legal writing and locate all the imperfections, grammar mistakes, omissions in sources or footnotes that could have us lose valuable scoring points. Yet another was a researcher, able to find articles and sources even where there seemed to be nothing written on the subject. And yet another had an investigatory approach that was highly motivating and inspirational for the rest of the team. Without the mixture of these qualities, we would not have been able to produce these written memorials.
Some words of praise should also go to our coach. As she took part in the Telders Competition herself a few years ago, she was able to understand our tears and problems, and she was always a source of comfort when we needed it. She combined the role of a teacher; a mother (especially later in The Hague when she came looking for us in the city centre as we were arriving late at night and our GPS was no longer working); and a friend, and for that, we appreciated her the most.
When we ceremoniously went together with our coach to the post office to send off the package with the memorials to The Hague, there were feelings of hesitation, but mostly celebration. A nice lunch with the team after the visit to the post office was the closure of that section of the competition and the start of a very welcome little break from the research, the demands of the coach and even from each other after all those months of working so tightly together. Three weeks later we were all again well-rested, energized and ready to get going on the preparations for the oral rounds.
However, fate had some surprises in store for us. A week before the competition there was the eruption of a volcano in Iceland that affected air traffic all over Europe. With our coach ‘ashed in’ in London trying to make her way to The Hague on time on her end, and us stuck way up in the Nordics with no flights going in or out, things were not looking good! A few nerve-wracking days of intense e-mail correspondence with the coach, the faculty, and the travel agency resulted in the four of us deciding on a road trip! We rented a car (as it turned out without any GPS service outside of Scandinavia) and started our journey south through Europe. But the trip didn’t seem that long after all: we