Oak Meadow students in China
Six 8th grade Oak Meadow students and three staff members spent the last week on the other side of the globe, in Hangzhou, China. They were part of a group of hundreds of students from around the world who participated in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program.
Although our middle school students have been attending MMUN in New York City every other year, this was the first time in the school’s history that students participated in one of the MMUN international conferences.
Students who participate in MMUN are required to represent one of the 193 member nations of the UN, and our students represented Norway. Students worked in pairs before the conference to deeply research one of 18 possible topics to be addressed during the conference. Our students addressed these three topics:
- The risk of nuclear proliferation in the middle east (as part of the Disarmament and International Security Committee)
- The convention on biological diversity (as part of The Economic and Financial/Environment Committee)
- Food security for all (as part of The Food and Agricultural Organization)
The students also had to become familiar with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were approved by all of the member nations of the actual United Nations back in 2015. Here is a list of the 17 SDGs, with a link to more information about the targets set for each goal:
Attending an MMUN conference gives students a glimpse into the real challenges of debate, negotiation, and compromise with people representing very different national cultures, perspectives, and economic interests. The students spent two full days working in their committees, attempting to hammer out resolutions that would be passed by the committee and brought to the floor of the General Assembly. The work was frustrating at times, giving students a realistic sense of how difficult it is to seek out common ground on issues that are incredibly complex. In the end, the committees were able to pass resolutions representing all 18 topics being discussed. Four of our Oak Meadow students were elected by their peers to be among the group of delegates to present the resolutions to the entire conference.
Although it was an exhausting week of hard work for the students, it was also an experience they will never forget. Compared with MMUN in New York City, this event included a larger percentage of students from countries outside of the US. Our students also had the amazing international experience of being in China and learning about the culture and people firsthand. Very few middle school students have the opportunity to travel overseas, and this was an experience that our students will remember for the rest of their lives. It gave our students an opportunity to become more personally engaged in global issues and topics that are so important to the future of our world.