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

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