Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN)

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Our sixth-years have been back from their New York City trip for MMUN for awhile now, but we still couldn’t be more proud of them – not only for all of their hard work leading up to the conference, but also the ways in which they conducted themselves in the city, and all the wonderful things they garnered from the experience. They are truly exceptional! 

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First: what exactly is MMUN? In the true spirit of Maria Montessori, who believed in fairness, justice, and peace for all people, Montessori Model United Nations is an annual opportunity for children aged 9 – 15 years to “formulate, present, debate, and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people of the world.”

From the official MMUN website:
“Students assume the perspectives of a UN Ambassador for their simulation country, bearing the rights and responsibilities of world leaders. Their imaginations propel them to collaboratively create resolutions to our world’s most pressing problems. MMUN encourages students to know that they can make a difference. Students represent simulation countries in different UN Committees, (based upon the actual UN Agenda Topics for the year) and have to cooperate in the definition and drafting of resolutions to global problems. Students learn about multi-lateral diplomacy, negotiation skills based upon cooperation (not competition) for complex international policies.”

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In addition to presenting in front of their world peers, students get to present their resolutions and vote on those resolutions at the actual United Nations General Assembly! This had a huge impact on our sixth-years, and left quite an impression.

We spoke with some of the sixth-years about the trip – from the preparations to the experience of being in The Big Apple, to the friends they made at MMUN – and share they did! Read their impressions below.

On preparing:

“We had to do a lot of research. We did it in stages. I was representing Tunisia, along with six other delegates. We used computers for the research; almost everyone spent an hour on the computer for the research – there was so much information. The point is to speak for the country we’re representing. We want to know what they would do, to think from their perspective, not ours.”

“All the research was probably a month of hours. Plus, I’ve been thinking about this trip since I was a fourth year.”

“We were given a committee. For example, economic/financial was one committee, and that splits into two parts: poverty and disaster risk reduction.”

“You have to learn first about your country, then about your topic. Based on that, you come up with a solution. There was a lot of reading.”

“My topic was helping people with disabilities. My country was Tunisia.”

“My topic was indigenous people, and my country was Lichtenstein.”

“We raised our own money for the trip. We had food sales, several bake sales, pizza sales. We worked hard to raise all that money.”

“We practiced our speeches every day. Even before that, we would make little tweaks to our speeches. Doing them over and over again really helped.”

“I was more nervous presenting my speech in front of the other sixth years than I was presenting in front of adults! I think it’s because it was my peers.”

“One solution to disaster risk reduction in Tunisia is to install DART tsunami early warning systems to reduce surrounding mortalities a lot, and reduce economic issues after a disaster.”

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On perspective:

“It’s crazy how few problems America has. I mean, every country has problems, but compared to a lot of other places, we have it pretty great.”

“The whole idea of MMUN is to help the world, not just the country you were assigned.”

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There was plenty of site-seeing too! The sixth-years walked from Times Square to the Museum of Natural History one day, then visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty the next.

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On New York:

“I had never been to New York City before; it was a lot to take in! It was big. I was expecting the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty to all be big, but everywhere we went, we were in the shadow of a building! Everything was way taller than I expected.”

“I have to say this trip was one of my favorite trips that I’ve ever taken.”

“It was fun to be with our friends on a trip and share that experience with friends, without our families!”

“It gave us a little more freedom to be there without our families.”

“When you’re in a hotel room with some of your best friends, it’s so much fun.”

“We did a lot of touristy things. We went to up to the Statue of Liberty, to the top of the pedestal. It was so cold and windy! 150 stairs up. We took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Now that was windy! It was really cool to see the Statue of Liberty from a boat.”

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“We went on The Ride, which was a comedy tour around the city. Two women comedians did the tour; it was hilarious!”

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On the MMUN experience:

“We set up our board in a conference room. There were kids there from all over the world: China, Australia, Germany… it was surprising how fluently everyone spoke English. ”

“The meetings were my favorite part; that, and the General Assembly! The Chamber was huge. Gemma looked like the president when she was up there speaking!”

“For the most part, I think the presentations went well. I messed up a little bit, but I just kept going. It wasn’t that bad.”

“We went to the actual United Nations building to present. It was so beautiful, and humungous. It looked like it was made of gold!”

“I was a little nervous when I was giving my speech.”

“I was more nervous walking into the place than I was actually giving my speech. I think it’s because I got to know the other people there, so I could relax. I wasn’t scared because we had practiced so much beforehand.”

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On making friends/interpersonal:

“When we divided into our regional blocks, we got to be around a bunch of different kids. I was in the Africa group; everyone who had a country in Africa came together to form our regional blocks draft resolution. We had to work together.”

“In our community session, there were one or two groups that really dominated and took over. That was kind of unfair. Everyone should have an equal chance to speak. We learned from that.”

“I made friends with some people from China. They were a little shy and reserved, and I talked to them. I ended up making friends with them, and they gave me a [token] to take home at the end.”

“Just this Monday, I sent an email to a friend I made in China. I can’t wait to hear back from him. I think making a friend like that was the coolest part. I never thought I would meet someone from so far away. But it’s one thing I knew going in, that I wanted to make a friend.”

On the whole experience:

“My favorite part was feeling sort of like I was on my own. I made decisions for myself, which I need practice doing. Simple things, like what I’m going to have for breakfast!”

“They were really long days. Some sessions were 6 hours long, with a lunch break. But I was so tired at the end of the day!”

“I had my own voice.”

“I would say to the the next year’s group going to MMUN: Stand up for your ideas. Or if someone is taking over or you don’t agree with someone, speak up. If you don’t speak up, your ideas will never be heard.”

“I would advise people not to be shy. It was the time of my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would totally do it again next year, if I could!”

“In MMUN, you’re helping the world.”

Thank you, sixth-years, for sharing! And a very special thank you to the staff and parents who accompanied them on their journey!