For five days, nine MMS 8th grade students took New York City by storm to participate in the prestigious Montessori Model United Nations program. The International Model UN draws 2,000 teenage student delegates from 20 nations with the sole purpose of addressing, discussing, and solving global issues. These include such topics as eradicating child labor, reducing water pollution, dealing with human migration, and cyber security. This is not a forum for opinion; this is a forum for diplomacy based on foreign policy research and factual evidence. The benefit – MMS students practice becoming the future leaders of their generation.
“It all starts with two months of research and work,” says Cady. "Our assigned country was Tunisia. The Model UN commission selects two problems for each committee to research. Before we get there, everyone on our committee writes a distinct position paper. For example, Tunisia has a serious problem with small arms that are coming into their country. While Tunisia has strict weapon’s control policies, Libya, and Algeria do not. This makes it easy for people with nefarious intentions to smuggle weapons across the border. As a result, the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, while not widely published, are injuring and killing more citizens.”
The position paper that Cady wrote suggested that Tunisia help surrounding countries reconsider their weapon smuggling laws to give them more teeth. There were also suggestions on how to provide a more concentrated effort to seize weapons at the border.
Cady also served on the United Nations Disarmament and International Security Committee, where the topic of weapons smuggling was discussed by student members representing other countries. “We began our meetings in several non-moderated sessions where we could discuss and decide on the most viable positions and solutions from everyone’s paper. The group decided to use my article for the moderated session, but before it was read, it was vigorously edited to add other ideas.”
When asked what lessons she learned from attending the Model United Nations, Cady was quick to respond. “The first is not to get worried when something I write is changed by people. Just because they don’t use some idea or position doesn’t mean my work or ideas are wrong. The second is that it takes focused concentration to work on a three-day project with people you don’t know, especially when you are pressed for time, and if those people are from China, Texas, New York, Canada, and Peru. There are barriers of culture, language, ideology, and skill. But focusing and listening closely is not just invigorating; it's key to success.”
What made the biggest impression on students was the final day when all of the countries and committees presented papers. “The best experience of the week I think came at the very end when all of us heard the final papers from the committees and countries. Our committee presented its paper. We elected a student in our group to do the reading at the United Nations podium. It was nice to think that we created a plausible solution to a real problem that most people in the world don’t even know exists.”