Two weeks after returning from their three-day trip to New York City, members of the Inly Middle School’s Model UN team still talk excitedly about their experience.
As student ambassadors representing Nigeria at the Montessori Model United Nations, the Inly team worked with other Montessori students from across North America to study complex problems and find workable solutions to real-world problems. Collaboration was key as they prepared positions and draft resolutions, negotiated with allies and adversaries, and resolved conflicts with professionalism.
Process and Preparation
At Inly, the Model UN team is a four-month commitment. Beginning in January, students meet weekly in an after-school program to research, prepare and write position papers on the needs, goals and foreign policies of the country they’ll represent. An optional program, Model UN is designed for students who are looking for an extra academic challenge and enjoy delving into a collaborative exercise in global thinking.
It also fits well with the Inly Middle School curriculum and its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, as students explore history, geography, culture, economics and science. Research topics including peace and security, human rights, the rights of the child, child labor, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization.
Tschol Slade, director of the Inly Middle School, commented that this year’s team was one of the most independent groups he’s ever had at Model UN. “They were organized, got everywhere on time, and didn’t require a lot of adult supervision.”
“The Inly students were really central to each committee. They were well prepared and comfortable with public speaking, and ended up assuming leadership roles. Lucy [Knox] spoke to an audience of a thousand people at the final meeting of the UN Security Council, presenting her committee’s resolution. Every one of the students did a really good job.”
Students were assigned to the following committees:
Collette & Zack: Human Rights Council
Gabby: Committee on the Rights of the Child
Ellen & Jeremy: IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
Ali & Lucy: Security Council
We had a chance to catch up with most of the team members during their lunch break this week, and asked them a few questions about their experiences. As you can see, this was not lightweight stuff!
What was the main focus of your committee?
Collette: We were working on two main things: assisting Somalia with human rights and also the elimination of modern slavery.
Ellen: The fallout of Fukushima.
Lucy: We were focusing on reform of the Security Council and also on the situation in Libya. Then, since we finished the first two early, they gave us a third: Ending the violence in Syria.
What did you find most interesting?
Collette: How everyone had different perspectives – not just because of their topics, but also because of the countries they were representing.
Lucy: It was really interesting to be around so many students from other Montessori schools… to see what we have in common and how we work in a certain way.
Ellen: That there are people whose arguments are so flawed and yet they still manage to influence so many other people. Both of our resolutions failed even though the arguments of the other side were disproved. There are people who are very good at convincing other people to think the way they think, despite the facts.
What did you find most shocking?
Gabby: That they start recruiting child soldiers when they’re 10 years old.
How do you think this experience might help you in high school?
Zack: It was a good experience to connect with people we didn’t know. We had 60 kids on our committee so we ended up collaborating closely with people we’d never met before… We learned how to work well together to get things done.
Ellen: It definitely helped me with public speaking. I haven’t had that much experience in front of such a large group, so this was a good experience.
What was the most memorable thing you ate in NYC?
Gabby: Jellyfish and pig’s knuckles (in Chinatown), and a 1,000-calorie cupcake from Crumbs.
What was the best part about the experience?
Zack: Making new friends. We now have friends in London, Ontario, Canada and in Santa Barbara, California. (And some crazy acquaintances from Texas.)