Carlos and Sam, sixth-graders from the Barry class, traveled to New York City with their teacher, Anna Gonzalez, to the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) from February 28th to March 3rd, 2010 . Held in the United Nations Headquarters, the MMUN program is an opportunity for students to learn about current issues through real-life experience, as they participate in a simulation of the United Nations.
Model United Nations programs were originally developed for high school and college students, and have been in existence for over 50 years. According to Gonzalez, The United Nations was reluctant to partner with schools for elementary and middle school students, as they felt these children would not be capable of the research, writing, and presentations required for the project. Four years ago, after much convincing, Montessori students were invited to participate in the first Model United Nations for students ages 9 to 15. This year, 772 Montessori students attended the MMUN, with Lake Mary Montessori Academy students attending for the first time.
Carlos, Sam, and the rest of the Barry class spent months preparing for the trip to New York city to represent Algeria in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). UNEP is "the voice for the environment," and is charged with keeping tabs on the global environment and bringing environmental issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. The students act as delegates for their assigned country, defend their county's position, and finish by voting on resolutions. They do all of this while wearing suits and sitting in their country's seats in the UN building.
According to Gonzalez, Model United Nations President Ed Elmendorf said that LMMA's students were the best he'd seen in four years the program has been in existence. He said that Carlos and Sam's position papers and debating skills were superb. The students presented Algeria's position to the rest of the Montessori student delgates, and voted on four resolutions. Gonzalez said that her students were confident and well-prepared to speak in front of the large group.
LMMA students were joined by Montessori students from Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Jordan, The Dominican Republic, The Virgin Islands, The United States and Puerto Rico.
When they weren't at the United Nations, the students and their teacher went to American Museum of National History, The Empire State Building, Times Square, and The Statue of Liberty. They had dinner at Grand Central Station and went Ice Skating at Rockerfeller Center. Both boys said that one of their favorite parts of the trip was having a snowball fight in Central Park. For more information about MMUN, go to: http://www.montessori-mun.org/