On March 10th, I was given the opportunity to witness the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) conference in action. 3400 students from around the world, the largest amount of participating students the MMUN has ever seen, gathered at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square from March 8th to March 11th. It was an incredibly interesting experience to see thousands of elementary and high school students gathered in a building, dressed professionally, presenting proposals to one another as delegates of the Model UN.
The goal for the delegates was to get two resolutions – one for each topic assigned to the committee – written and supported by more than 50% of the member states represented in order to go to the UN on the 11th. Eight Montessori students had the honor of participating in the conference, and they were able to attend the UN General Assembly Room to pass their drafted resolutions with other delegates! Upon acceptance into the conference, students are given a country and tasks are divided among the students. Hudson Montessori students, for example, were assigned Somalia.
Each student goes through various sessions, and there’s a lot of prep work involved. I was impressed to hear from the students and teachers about how much work goes into each step of the process. Hudson Montessori students have prepped for this conference since the second grade through lessons to improve their public speaking and writing skills. In time, they learn all about the procedures, how to motion and request, and each student writes 2-page position papers.
Every student and teacher is given a packet of information for the conference, containing everything from the conference agenda to pre-ambulatory and operative clauses that should be used by the delegates. The weekend is filled with sessions lasting an average of 2 to 3 hours long and social events so the delegates can mingle. When I asked the students what their favorite part of the UN trip was, many of them expressed their excitement for staying in a hotel and interacting with other students. Student Emily said her favorite part of the week was Cultural Night: “Cultural Night is probably my favorite because I meet new people and learn about where they come from, and how much they’ve done to come here.” They were all also looking forward to Social Night, which was a little dance party happening that night for all the students/delegates at the conference!
Overall, I’m impressed not only by the process to get to the MMUN Conference, but also by the way such a conference provides opportunities to those involved. Participating students get an experience that will benefit them for a lifetime. They coordinate with delegates of other countries, learn about their political issues, and are exposed to people from different cultures. Students even learn valuable life skills like public speaking, confidence, and active listening. Student Raeline learned she was great at public speaking through MMUN, and it showed as she spoke during our discussion!
Just to gain some perspective from the students, I asked everyone what they learned in the process and what they felt was most important to them. Henry explained, “I do see myself doing at least the Model UN in the future, hopefully with my younger brother Edward, who can next year.” When asking for tips for any new MMUN delegates, he said, “I have two: One, don’t wait until the last minute to do things! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Two, for Cultural Night – don’t worry. Relax! Think about the special effects that might make it cooler and, once you get through it, you’ll see a star.” Wise words! With so many opportunities and potential, I can only imagine how much these students can grow in MMUN over the years!
Thank you to Ms. Stacey and Ms. Grace for showing me around and letting me speak to the students, and thank you to all the Hudson Montessori students for participating in a discussion!
For more information on the Montessori Model United Nations program, you can check out the website.