At Model U.N. event: Students learn to compromise

Students at Whitby School recently did their part to become model citizens at the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN), where they became the delegation from the Middle Eastern country of Qatar.

The team of seventh graders — Brandon Bunt, Caitlin Hodgson, Katherine Hurst, Simon Jimenez, Spencer Jimenez, Siobhan Nixon, Thomas Steinman, Sarah Warming and Claire Wieser — worked toward fulfilling Whitby’s mission to motivate students “to confidently take action as contributing members of a diverse global community.”

Student pairs were each assigned to a committee modeled after actual United Nations committees such as the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL). They worked hard for the past month, catching time during lunch and at home after school, each researching and developing position papers on a variety of diverse topics including girls’ education, microfinance in emerging markets, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, post-conflict reconstruction in Libya and children in armed conflicts.

When students arrived at the Model U.N., they were briefed on protocols, and then almost immediately began with speeches and caucusing, collaborating with peers from all over the world to draft, argue for, and, in a culminating event, vote on resolutions in the actual United Nations General Assembly chamber.

“I think we did well because at Whitby, we learn to be comfortable talking to other people,” said Sarah.

Siobhan added, “Our English teachers really prepared us well through the essays we’ve written and speeches we’ve made. It made it easier for us to draft resolutions.”

Simon and Caitlin ended up leading their committees and drafted the final resolution, despite this being their first year participating in MMUN. The students also talked about their ability to collaborate with others to achieve consensus on issues, something they practice every day, and found it more successful than the more aggressive approach some from other schools took. Faculty advisors Wen Yu Ho and Andrew Greene lauded the students’ poise, leadership, collaboration and spirit, especially given that it was their first year in the program.

Whitby chose to participate in the Montessori Model U.N., which emphasizes cooperation and compromise over competition, as it further develops a connected support network, a self-directed discovery model of learning where process is the most important outcome, and a focus on engaging with people from other cultures not just from an academic perspective but on a true interpersonal level.

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