Casa di Mir Montessori middle school students developed their voices as global citizens during their trip to the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) 11th Annual Middle School Conference in New York City early this year. They stepped into the shoes of UN ambassadors, representing the countries of: Malawi, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. Their goal: collaborate on agreements with other countries to solve global issues.
MMUN focuses on assisting the delegates to find common ground and create one consensus-based resolution per topic. The committee work is based on collaboration and negotiation rather than debate. Skills that will last a lifetime.
Nearly 2,000 students from 18 countries attended the event.
For two days, students attended committee sessions, gave opening speeches, reviewed draft resolutions, negotiated with allies and adversaries, resolved conflicts, and navigated MMUN rules of procedure. The complex, real-world topics they worked on included: International law, nuclear disarmament, land mines, peace keeping missions, and refugees.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without our intense preparation,” said one student, referring to the weeks of classwork prior to the event. Students wrote opening speeches, and researched their countries’ needs, goals and foreign policies, as well as history, geography, culture, economics and science. They also made display boards about their countries. And they debated, negotiated and collaborated with fellow classmates on various resolutions.
At closing ceremony, two Casa di Mir Middle School students spoke to the entire conference in the United Nations General Assembly room. Both were chosen by fellow delegates in committee sessions to share their committees’ resolution papers—one on prevention of an arms race in outer space, the other on peacekeeping missions. Only about 40 students were chosen for this honor.
“MMUN is the pinnacle of the middle school year,” said Kelly Curtin, middle school teacher. “Students experience the big picture of global citizenship and how nations work together to affect the world for the better. And since they earn the funds to get to the conference through micro-economies projects, they arrive at the conference with a stronger understanding of economics, too.”
The micro-economies projects, guided by the middle school teachers, included: a used-book sale, a bake sale, running a sleep-over event for elementary students, and crafting and selling handmade wooden duck toys. In each instance, the students developed a business plan, executed on it, then reviewed and integrated what they had learned for the next project.
After the students returned home from New York, they shared their MMUN experiences via formal presentations to upper elementary students, staff and parents. It was apparent as they spoke that their leadership skills and understanding of the interconnectedness of the world had grown immensely. So did their appreciation of the experience.
Said one, “MMUN was an experience I’ll never forget.”