Category Archives: Field Studies

Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words

by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

In this series of articles, the Inly Middle School Model UN Team describes various facets of their experience at Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) in New York City.

IMG_1804When we pitched this assignment to the team, we were expecting some groans. After all, the students had already done a lot of writing—from the fully researched and formally written and cited action plans they wrote before going to the conference, to the daily reflections they completed while we were in New York City, to the official conference evaluations they filled out after the event—the team had already done a lot of work.

Much to our (pleasant) surprise, rather than groaning, the students embraced this article project, excited to articulate and publish their MMUN thoughts. They eagerly commenced brainstorming and dividing up the topics to write about, including:

  • How the conference works
  • Their reflections on leadership and group dynamics
  • The value of having experts as mentors
  • How they kept track of their spending
  • What they did in their “down” time in New York City
  • Why teenagers might be able to better solve the world’s problems than all the adults who are working as paid ambassadors, delegates, and entrepreneurs
  • What it was like to be part of a huge gathering of Montessori Middle School students from around the world

IMG_1602Even with all these great articles, there’s plenty that the team didn’t write about, including:

  • The major commitment of joining the team (two hour meetings after school every week for three months, plus plenty of work to complete in between meetings)
  • Rigorous academic demands (keeping up with all their regular school work and managing the workload of an additional writing- and reading-intensive elective)
  • Navigating around the city (every time we needed to get somewhere outside of the hotel, one student was given a paper map and tasked with the challenge of getting us to our destination)
  • Being away from home and mixed into so many new social dynamics
  • The four-day moratorium on social media (a big challenge for some of our more electronically connected teens)

IMG_1803While we’re impressed with the work our students do in the classroom, seeing them at work out in the world is always particularly powerful. Whether they’re interning in a discipline they may wind up pursuing as a career, pushing themselves to new physical limits while on Ocean Classroom or at Heifer International’s Overlook Farm, or working with their peers to solve major world issues, we’re always impressed with our students’ field studies work. This year’s Montessori Model UN team was no exception. We hope you enjoy hearing about it in the students’ own voices.

 

 

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

 

Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing

by Benjamin Bison ’16

[This is part one in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

IMG_1580This year, 10 Inly Middle School students traveled to New York City to attend Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) as part of the NGO Forum. MMUN is a conference where kids from all over the world can go and participate in a simulation of the actual United Nations. Groups either go representing the perspective and interests of a specific country or having created an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) about a particular issue (this year that issue was climate change). Our whole Inly team separated into groups of two to create a total of five different NGOs. Our NGOs covered a wide variety of topics ranging from wind farms to seawalls.

IMG_1626Once at the conference, we began working and collaborating with kids from all over the world. We shared our NGOs and worked on perfecting them. We also had the option to team up with other kids with similar NGOs to create one big organization. At the end of the conference, we presented our NGOs to everyone in the NGO Forum part of Model UN. In addition, we watched the country delegates have their final voting ceremony in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations building.

The conference is held in New York City, so the MMUN team had the opportunity to do fun, non-conference related things while on the trip. This year, we explored Times Square and its shops, along with the Rockefeller Center and the Guggenheim Museum. We also went to various restaurants and watched the award winning Broadway show Matilda. In addition, we honored those affected by past tragedies by visiting memorials to both the trans-Atlantic slave trade and September 11th.

A major transferrable skill from this trip was money management and budgeting. Each team member had to bring around $300 cash to pay for food, transportation, and other things during the trip. We had to decide what to spend our money on and when to spend it, and we had to make those decision ourselves without the help of our teachers. Some people spent very little on the trip and came back home with large amounts of money. On the other hand, some participants spent a lot and only came home with a few dollars. To help us stay conscious of what we were spending, we all completed a reflection at the end of each day where we looked at exactly how much we spent and what we spent it on.

MMUN was a fun trip. Although there was a lot of preparation work and joining the team was a big commitment, all the hard work pays off in the end. I encourage any student who is interested in current events to partake in MMUN if the opportunity ever presents itself, as it is a fun, memorable, unique, and worthwhile experience. I am looking forward to going again next year as an 8th grader.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences

by Jonah Lee ’15

[This is part two in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

IMG_1710Having attended Montessori Model United Nations now twice, I’ve observed several differences between the NGO Forum and other parts of MMUN. Last year, I represented The Republic of Guatemala in the MMUN Security Council, with a goal of solving two problems. The first problem was nuclear proliferation, or the increase in the presence of nuclear arms in the world. The other problem involved disputes between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. This year, I participated in the MMUN NGO Forum, with a goal of developing a non-profit organization that would address the global issue of climate change.

Obviously, the problems I addressed in these two years are different, but in a lot of ways the processes that the NGO Forum and Security Council go through are similar. For example, in preparation for MMUN 2015, I wrote an action plan, a statement of my goals and ideas for solving climate change. For MMUN 2014, I created a position paper, which presented my country’s (Guatemala’s) goal and ideals when speaking about the presented problems. During the conferences themselves, in both 2014 and 2015, I worked with large groups to address our problems.

IMG_1618For the Security Council, I worked closely with other non-nuclear capable countries to create a system of taxes for countries that did possess nuclear weapons. That system of taxation was outlined in our Resolution 1.1, On Nuclear Non-Proliferation. There have been disputes between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine for a very long time. The countries are different in many ways, yet they both want control over several areas of their regions. Honestly, I don’t remember how we solved that problem.

All in all, the preparation for, the process of, and the product that came out of these two experiences were quite similar. Some pros of the country study are that in Security Council, delegates are really able to participate in an authentic UN experience, whereas in the NGO Forum, that might not necessarily be the case. In the NGO Forum, however, your work is a lot more free-form, while in Security Council that might not be the case.

There’s one last point I’d like to introduce: time. In a four-day conference, time is limited. In MMUN 2014, when I represented The Republic of Guatemala, four days was plenty of time to create well-written, effective solutions for our problems. On the other hand, it felt like we could have used more time while we were participating in the NGO Forum this year.

Overall, both of these experiences were interesting and exciting. I’m sure I’ll keep drawing from my MMUN experiences as I continue into high school, and I’m confident that they’ll keep making the conference better and become better over time.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

Developing a Global Perspective

by Alec Perez ’15

[This is part three in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

IMG_1736I guess you could say I’m your typical teenage boy. I like video games, I love sports, and all I want in life right now is to have fun. But despite this, there is one thing that may push me out from the crowd of most teenage boys. I enjoy global politics. I like to get immersed in the world, figure out how specific countries or governments are behaving, learn about how the economy is holding up, and examine what specific problems we are facing as a species. I love analyzing these things that make us human, that make us truly us. Above all, I love seeing how human nature plays into life all around us.

“But why?” one might ask, “Why would a boy as young as you even remotely care about something that the adults in your life seem to be taking care of?”

Well, it’s simple really. The adults in my life aren’t taking care of it. I don’t mean that as a blow to adults. I’m not trying to make a statement, and no, that’s not me being a teenager and being “emotionally unstable at this time in my life,” or anything like that. It’s simply a fact. Sure, some adults in my life are doing their part, but for the world to grow into the way we want it, it’s going to take more people than we have working on it right now.

IMG_1720So, I intend to be one of those people. I refuse to have the world handed down to my generation in its current condition. At the rate we are going, especially when it comes down to the issue of climate change, by the time the world is handed down to me, I will be left with something two or three times worse than what we started with. And that is not acceptable. You want to know why I am so interested in global politics, why I find it so intriguing? Because I don’t want to hand the world down to my grandchildren in even worse condition that it’s in now.

Of course, there are other reasons I enjoy keeping up with the news. I like observing humans and watching how they behave under different situations, like how a president acts when he is faced with the question of war or peace, and how the public reacts to his decisions. While observing human behavior is enough to keep me interested in the news, it seems easier to get others to rally around the idea of saving humanity.

Some people reading this might have made the connection to the United Nations already (after all, the UN is full of people working hard to make the world a better place). And for me, working to get ready for the Montessori Model United Nations conference was the real reason I first got into these types of global politics. When she was in the eighth grade, my older sister Katie went on this amazing trip to New York City and met with kids from all around the world to solve global issues. Honestly, I was inspired by her stories of the conference. So this year, I decided to join the Inly Model UN team and go on the same trip. It was a lot of hard work, but I got even more tools and information out of the whole experience then I thought.

So now that I’m back, I am faced with two choices. I can either sit back and wait for someone else to come along and save the planet for me and run the risk of watching the tragedy of the commons unfold in front of me. Or, I can step up. I can be the guy who actually lives Gandhi’s advice to “be the change you want to see in the world.” I know I will face hardships and have to climb over my fair share of obstacles on my way to saving the world. But to be honest, I really do think that it’s better than watching the world burn and looking back to see myself do nothing about it.

To sum it all up: I find global politics and world events interesting because I care about what humans as a race are doing, how we are acting, and how we are responding to certain things. I love it because someday I will get to be a major part of it.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

Follow the Leader

by Emma Kahn ’15

[This is part four in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

A few weeks ago, I was in a class outside of Inly and the topic of leadership came up. The instructor asked the group to list the qualities of a leader. The kids responded with “a leader is someone with the loudest voice, the oldest and biggest, the person who makes a plan for others to follow, the person telling other people what to do.” I was very surprised when I heard their answers because I knew that a true leader isn’t necessarily any of those things. At Inly, we talk a lot about leadership and what it looks like to be a leader. In my opinion, a leader is someone who empowers others to do their best. I got to practice a lot of that type of leadership at the Model UN conference this past March, and I got to see that type of leadership in action from others.

IMG_1713As participants in this conference, my classmates and I had a lot of opportunities to practice being positive leaders. We got to know other kids from all over the world and worked together with them to form a well functioning NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). Early on in the process, when we were just getting to know the other delegates, we carried ourselves with poise and walked around with positive attitudes and respect for people, even before we really knew who they were. Eventually, we formed our new NGO groups with students from a lot of different schools and a lot of different places. In our group, we were actually working with kids that we had never met before, along with some from our own school. In these groups, we voiced our opinions and built off the ideas of others, which was one way that we were empowering others to do their best.

Throughout our time in New York, we also got to see other people demonstrate this type of leadership. For example, when we worked with our mentor, she listened to us pitch our NGO, and then she provided us with advice about how to make it better. She used her experience to guide us towards making our NGO plans even better than they already were. She used her experience and skills to empower us to do better. In turn, because we were being an audience for her, we were also empowering her and her organization’s work.

For me, this kind of synergy is what’s so great about the kind of leadership that empowers other people. It’s like when we do group initiatives at school, or when we’re in the middle of a really great discussion in class. There’s a big smoosh of everyone’s ideas, and we wind up with something in the end that’s much better than what we could have come up with on our own.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

Are You My Mentor?

by Alexander deMurias ’15

[This is part five in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

For MMUN, my partner Alec Perez and I created a Non-Governmental Organization to get ready for the conference. We wrote an action plan and sent it to the president of the NGO Forum. Once she approved our plan, we got the go-ahead to come to the conference.

Our NGO was called the WPI (Wildlife Protection Initiative). Our long-term goal was to house and protect endangered species all around the globe, but first we started out small. We decided to focus on honeybees and bats because these important species are becoming threatened due to the impacts of climate change.

IMG_1723The first part of our action plan was to build and set up bee and bat boxes around the South Shore. By doing this, we hoped to increase the population of our chosen animals. To accomplish the building, we planned to partner with Alexander Shooshan, a local woodworker (and a classmate of ours) who would help us build the boxes. Then, we planned to work with Ellyn Einhorn, a local ecologist (and a former teacher of ours) to partner with Mass Audubon, where we would go on to teach the children who signed up for a summer camp program there. After successfully increasing the bat and honeybee populations locally and spreading awareness and education to our immediate South Shore community, we planned to gradually expand our NGO around the country and eventually even around the world.

During the actual conference in New York City, we worked with many students from Montessori schools around the world. All of those delegates had also developed action plans for their NGOs. When we were all together at the conference, we worked together to brainstorm about how we could make our NGOs better. We wrote mission statements for our NGOs, developed budgets for our NGOs, and presented to a large audience about our final NGO plans. My favorite step of this process was meeting with an experienced mentor who would help us with our NGOs.

IMG_1615Each group was paired up with a mentor based on what our organizations were trying to do and what the mentors had experience with. Our mentor, Aislin, has experienced and participated in an organization that handled a similar problem to the one that our NGO was working on. Since our mentor really understood what we were working on, she was able to help us come up with different ideas for how to get funds and what the possible partners should be for our NGO.

To prepare for the meeting with our mentor we had to come up with a short pitch that described the problem we were trying to solve and the solution to the problem. After we gave our pitch to Aislin, she gave us really helpful feedback and told us about her past experiences and how they related and what could be helpful to our NGO. Also, there were other delegates meeting with our same mentor during the meeting. We got to hear their pitches and hear Aislin’s feedback on them. This was also helpful because the other delegates’ NGOs were related to ours, so we could use the feedback they got and apply it to our organizations. Meeting with Aislin showed me that NGOs can actually work very well if you spend time planning them out. It was cool to think about whether our NGO would actually survive in the real world, and Aislin helped us see that it could.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts

by Mia Bilezikian ’15

[This is part six in a series of 10 pieces of student writing about the Inly Middle School’s experience at Montessori Model United Nations in New York City.]

Q: What was it like collaborating with students you didn’t know before?

IMG_1716A: I don’t think it was easier or harder to work with people I didn’t know before the conference compared to working with people I did know before the conference. It was really awesome to hear a bunch of other people’s opinions on top of what my partner and I had already come up with. It was interesting to see how some people felt really strongly about one idea compared to another. By the third committee session I felt like I had a good grasp on the personalities of the people in my group. I knew who was going to say whatever they wanted to and who might need a little more motivation to share their idea. There was one girl in our group who was pretty quiet, so whenever I had a chance, I would ask her what she thought. She started to talk more toward the end of our time together, as we were getting ready for our presentation. I’m glad she opened up like that.

Q: What were some of your favorite non-conference parts of the experience?

A: Taking the photos and going to see Matilda were probably my favorite non-conference parts of the trip. As much as I loved the Guggenheim, it cannot even compare to the MoMA. I wish we had some more time to take photographs. It felt like whenever I saw something I really wanted to take a picture of, it was always on the other side of the street, or we were rushing. I liked having the assignments* about what to take photos of because it made me pay attention to smaller details that I usually would not really think about. I also think that going to Matilda was a pretty good break from everything else. Other than that, there wasn’t really another moment (besides meals) that we weren’t walking around the city or working hard at the conference.

*Each day, we had a photography assignment that challenged us to take pictures about different themes. One day, we all took photos of reflections and shadows. Another day, we all took photos of shapes and patterns and textures. Another day, we all took photos of cool typography. On the last day, we took juxtaposition-themed photos.

 

For more in this series, check out these links:

“Montessori Model United Nations: In Their Own Words” by Paran Quigley and Jen McGonagle, Inly Middle School Teachers and MMUN Advisors

“Montessori Model United Nations: Work Worth Doing” by Benjamin Bison ’16

“One Delegate, Two Model UN Experiences” by Jonah Lee ’15

“Developing a Global Perspective” by Alec Perez ’15

“Follow the Leader” by Emma Kahn ’15

“Are You My Mentor?” by Alexander deMurias ’15

MMUN Reflection Excerpts by Mia Bilezikian ’15

“When I Grow Up…” by Gaby Munn ’16

“Global Group Dynamics” by Marty Morris ’15

“How It All Stacks Up: MMUN Compared to Other Field Studies” by Justin Cokinos ’16

“New York, Model UN, and Middle Schoolers — What Could Go Wrong?
(Spoiler Alert: Nothing)” by Kathryn Goebel ’15