After many months of rigorous research and participation, Vineyard Montessori School (VMS) elementary students and their teachers spent an exciting four days in New York City for the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) Conference. According to a press release, the MMUN has partnered with the United Nations to create a program for Montessori students to participate in a life-changing experience. The goal of the MMUN is to inspire youth by providing a forum for them to formulate, present, debate, and revise positions on current issues affecting people all over the world. Through the process of role-playing, each student becomes a delegate of a selected nation, writing, presenting, and debating issues affecting their nation and people of the world.
This year, eight students from VMS attended the conference from March 8 to March 11 in New York City. They tackled issues that included nuclear disarmament, prevention of an arms race in outer space, desertification, and agricultural development. They spent six hours daily for the first three days in class, researching assigned countries and their countries’ positions on the topics. They wrote position papers, resolutions, and speeches. At the conference, they worked with students from around the world to find resolutions for their given topics. On the first day, they attended an opening ceremonies and participated in a flag procession. They set up displays the second day, representing the culture of their assigned countries. On the last day, the students boarded buses to go to the U.N. General Assembly, where their resolutions were voted on.
Marysol Jurczyk, a VMS student new to the MMUN this year, researched the topic of nuclear disarmament. According to Marysol, “It was really fun. Our bureau, the Secretariat, and chair were really nice and were not strict. They gave us pointers on speaking and how to behave and be respectful in class. During formal consultations, we talked about each other’s speeches and how to put them into resolutions. At that time, we also voted on the length of informal consultations when we met with other delegations.”
Another first-timer, Daniel Carreno, explained the informal consultations he participated in. “The informal consultations were fun, and I met a lot of kids from other countries,” said Daniel. “The purpose was to walk around the room and make a resolution with other countries. We asked people if they wanted to join us, and we shared ideas. My topic was the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). One of the solutions that I learned about and put in the resolution was to make sure that people check any objects before they are sent to space. They would make sure that there are no arms on board.”
Another VMS student, Silas Stanek, who attended the MMUN conference for a second year, was chosen to speak at the U.N. He said, “After the resolution was written for PAROS, the bureau asked all the people who wanted to speak at the U.N. General Assembly to go to the corner of the room to decide among fellow delegates. Three people would be chosen per topic. Twelve kids wanted to speak on the topic, and nine voted for me. I think they chose me because I was helping a lot and I let everyone share their ideas.” When asked if he was nervous, he replied, “To be honest, I was more nervous about my opening speech in the conference than I was at the U.N. The first year I was in space, and this year I had gravity!”
Despite the hard work required for this endeavor, the students came home from the experience feeling proud. Their eyes, minds, and hearts were opened to new worlds. This experience provided them with the knowledge and compassion to do great things.