by Marty Morris ’15
[This is part eight 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.]
In the NGO Forum, we spent a lot of our time working with kids from around the world. One of the cool (though hard) things about working with kids from different cultures is that they grew up learning different group strategies and different styles of leadership. This can be a challenge in a group of 10 people if all 10 are trying to communicate in 10 different ways—that doesn’t work so well. Our NGO group had a tough time navigating this, which made the start of our project a little slow.
In the brainstorming process, for example, many of us were practicing the kind of brainstorming we do at Inly a lot—the kind where we all add ideas, even if we don’t think they’re the best ideas, because the whole point is that there are no bad ideas when you start brainstorming. But some of the other people in our NGO group approached the brainstorming phase of our group work in a different way and got stuck on their first idea. They kept expanding their first idea, even when the rest of the group was trying to use those ideas to come up with new and better ones.
One cool thing about navigating through these challenges was that I saw everyone in my group, including me, come up with and try out different strategies to help us move forward. For example, we tried to take turns talking by raising our hands, and when that didn’t work, we moved on to “the magic marker,” where we passed along a marker and only the person who had magic marker could talk (yeah, not that exciting and very time consuming). It took a little while, but eventually, we realized that we had to start synergizing better. By the time we were done with our second committee session, we were working together like a well-oiled machine.
In the end, I think my group was actually fortunate to have so many different people with so many different opinions in the group, because those differences made for a great end product (even though our process was a little messier). Looking back, even though there were many rough spots, I absolutely would not change the people we had in our group. Although the strong opinions were hard to deal with at times, everyone’s opinions are valid and most of the ideas contributed to our group in some way.
Even though the conference is over, my group and I believe in the NGO we created so much that we have decided to actually put our project into action. We’re hoping that our NGO will make a substantial difference in the world by affecting many people’s lives in a positive way. Even though we faced hardships as a team, we made it through them, and now we have embarked a journey to make our difference in the world. Now, East Coast Solar Development Program (our NGO!) is working towards bringing more solar panels to our communities across the country and even across the world. I’m not sure we could have done that if we had smooth sailing and 10 people with all the same ideas in the first place.
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