Eighth graders from the DCS Montessori School in Castle Pines take a
little time out from their duties at the Montessori Model U.N.
last month in Brooklyn, New York to do some sightseeing.
By Lisa Crockett; photo courtesy of Alison Barsan
Brooklyn is a long way from Castle Pines, where DCS Montessori (DCSM) students have spent the last few months learning about how the countries of the world come together to solve the problems we all share. But 2,000 miles on a plane isn’t the only distance that these middle schoolers have traveled. As representatives at the “Montessori Model United Nations” in Brooklyn last month, the students have also come a long way in their understanding of how solutions to the world’s problems succeed or fail.
Students are assigned a country – in this case the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and are then tasked with learning enough to intelligently represent the interests of that country in a mock session of the U.N.
“We were assigned a developing nation, a country which limits access to the Internet,” said middle school teacher Alison Barsan, who advised the 13-student delegation along with fellow teacher Michael Catalano. “We really had to be detectives to learn what we needed to know.”
Comprehensive knowledge of the country they were representing was crucial to the students’ success, since they were assigned to committees and then asked to write position papers. The papers addressed real-world situations, ranging from small arms trafficking to childhood obesity.
“I learned that even though the Democratic Republic of Congo has a third of the water in Africa, it’s a real struggle to access adequate water and sanitation there,” said eighth grader and Castle Pines resident Harry Pearson. “These kinds of problems are happening globally; I was on the United Nations Environmental Program committee and as part of our resolution we proposed that for every tree cut down, two would be planted in its place.”
Though the bulk of the conference was held in a Brooklyn hotel, a highlight of the trip was a visit to the U.N., where students toured the area where world leaders meet to discuss and solve problems.
“It was really cool to sit where the actual delegates sit and vote,” said James Nail, another Castle Pines resident and student on the trip. “Before we went on the trip, I thought it would be easy, but once we got there I realized how hard we had to work. We were ready, though, and that made a big difference.”
The trip touched on multiple subjects and gave students a unique learning experience.
“The kids learned great research skills and got to socialize with students from around the world,” said Barsan. “These are our world’s future leaders; they have the power to change the world. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice.”