7th-grade student Mikail Oflaz has participated in the Montessori Model UN Conferences since he was in the 3rd grade. At the end of last school year, he and his mother, Georgette Loizuo, approached Principal Krone and Supervisor Velazquez about Explore Middle School becoming a part of the Model UN experience.
Principal Krone and Supervisor Velazquez were happy to allow their students to be part of such a prestigious organization. From February 19th to the 22nd, 11 students from Explore Middle School were delegates at the conference in New York City.
“It was really exciting to work with Ms. Krone, Ms. Velasquez, and Ms. Franco to bring Model UN to our district. I had the chance to work with the Model UN organizers to bring the program to Explore Middle School in hopes of providing new students with the same opportunities that Model UN has provided me,” Oflaz explained.
“These experiences have helped me shape my means of thinking for years and have taught me to look at the world from a different point of view because as a delegate representing a country, you are charged with understanding your country's perspective which can vary from your own opinions. Your task is to argue your countries views and negotiate on behalf of your country, not yourself. This program is so important to me because it has the ability to bring delegates from around the world to a common consensus.”
Montessori Model United Nations partners with the United Nations to create a program for students at the sensitive period for a reason, justice and morality can participate in a life-changing experience.
The Montessori Model United Nations program culminates classroom or after school study with a two-day global education simulation experience at the United Nations that enables students in upper elementary and middle schools to learn about the operations of the United Nations and its role as the world’s largest international peacekeeping and humanitarian organization.
Prior to the two-day global simulation, students from all over the world are assigned a country to represent and a global issue they must learn about. Then, the preparation begins. At Explore, beginning in September, the students met for 2 hours once a week after school and 4 days a week during school to prepare for the conference.
“The students were tasked with a number of things to do in order to participate in the conference. First, they researched the countries they were assigned in order to have a true grasp on who the people of the country are, the current policies of the government, and their role in the United Nations and its treaties. Then, the students become experts on the topic issues they were given and prepare position research papers and speeches. The most important part of their paper and speech is the presentation of a resolution proposal for the other delegates to consider,” Model UN advisor Ms. Justine Franco explained.
7th graders Mikail Oflaz, Claire Murray, and Almami Jobarteh represented Kuwait. Belize was assigned to 6th graders Emma Sauerbrei and Kyle Kennedys and 7th graders Gabrial Marandino and Melike Kunukcu. Equatorial Guinea delegates were 7th graders Felix Puigseppalainen, Olivia Van Tassel, Aidan Chapas, and Cayden Drumeler.
Each student became a part of one of the Model UN Committees: Chapas and Drumeler were a part of Disarmament and International Security (DISEC), Puigseppalainen and Van Tassel were on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Marandino and Sauerbrei represented Social, Humanitarian and Culture (SOCHUM), Jobarteh and Murray worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Olaz was a member of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Each committee was then given two topics to focus on DISEC: Nuclear Disarmament and Prevention of an Arm Race in Space, ECOSOC: Advancement of Women and UN Forum on Forest, SOCHUM: Improving the Coordination of Efforts Against Trafficking in Persons and Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, FAO: Combatting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, UNODOC: Strengthening International Cooperation to Combat Cybercrime and Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Organs and Trafficking in for the purpose of organ removal.
During the two-day committee sessions, student delegates present their position papers and resolutions. Then, the delegates work together to negotiate and create one unanimous resolution for each topic. The students then vote on the resolutions and they are presented to the entire conference during the Closing Ceremony.
6th grader Kyle Kennedys enjoyed the experience overall but especially appreciated the chance to have his voice heard during the drafting of the final resolution. “Model UN was a great learning experience and it was so much fun. I liked the line-by-line review process the most. During line by line, everyone had the opportunity to share his or her opinion and every time someone suggested a change it had to be voted on by majority rule. This allowed us to change the resolution in the sense that the concept and idea could better solve the problem in the most specifics ways and everyone had a final say,” he shared.
“The students took on this experience with so much grace and enthusiasm. All of their research and preparation for the conference was done with great seriousness and we managed to have a lot of fun too! During the two-day sessions, the students worked exceptionally well with the other delegates and were true leaders for each of their committees. 4 of our 11 students were voted for or asked to speak at the Closing Ceremony. I cannot express how proud I am of our delegates. I can’t wait for next year.” Franco shared.
Supervisor Velazquez added, “Even though this was Explore's first year participating in the Model UN, I was blown away by how prepared and eager our students were to debate, negotiate, and collaborate with their peers from around the world to finalize their resolutions. I also want to extend a huge thank you to our parent chaperones Mr. and Mrs. Drumeler, Mrs. Chapas, Ms. Loizou, Ms. Seppalainen and of course Mrs. Franco!”