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Aidan at the 2018 Montessori Model United Nations
Aidan at the 2018 Montessori Model United Nations

Here you'll find the collected missives of Ms. Elizabeth Henke, faculty coordinator of our delegation to the MMUN, starting February 21, 2018. You don't have to have been a parent this time to see how amazing this experience was for the students who partook - but especially for parents of our younger children, we wanted to share what could be in your child's future!

MMUN: Day 1

Dear Parents,

We are all just settling into our beds after a very full day. Thank you to all who got up extra early to get our delegates to the train station. They have done marvelously well given their lack of sleep and tired bodies. Just because they woke up early did not mean giving them a break. We did a ton of walking today, which truthfully felt really nice in the 60˚F sun.

The train ride was joyful and snack-full. While we didn't discuss it ahead of time, I am mostly trusting the students to make appropriate food choices for themselves (with some guidance). That said, we did have a cheeseburger and hot dog consumed in the 8 AM hour. So we were off to a strong start. :)

Once at Penn Station, Aidan and Alan took the first day of navigation. They routed us to the hotel to deposit our bags and to both Chipotle and Pizza Hut (ironic to buy chain pizza in NY, I know), and finally to Central Park where we ate. It was a gorgeous day and the kids had fun climbing the boulders and sliding down the sides. Children outside in the sun with nowhere to be is childhood at its finest. Kristen Franklin has been incredibly helpful and has been documenting each step. Thank you!

We met up with Mr. Kendall on our return from Central Park. The evening progressed to flag bearer rehearsal for Lucy and Emerson then dinner sadly not at Ellen's Stardust Diner, as the line was too long (and they don't accept reservations). We ate in the hotel restaurant which was easy—so it was perfect. We were joined by Yael and Aidan's uncle!

Our last event was the Opening Ceremony where we heard from Scilla Elworthy, three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Peace Direct. She is very inspiring.

This promises to be a wonderful experience for everyone.

Sweet dreams!


PS—One of the treats for me is getting to catch up with my Montessori teacher from when I was their age. She has been bringing Middle Schoolers from Milwaukee Montessori School to MMUN for years now. I told the kids she was my teacher 25 years ago--what a reality check!

MMUN: Day 2

Dear Parents,

We have made it through day two. It's hard to convey the depth and dedication we witnessed from our students in the committee sessions. Mr. Kendall and I rotated through the three committees. In each we got to see Aidan students raising their placards, suggesting edits to resolutions, helping peers from other delegations cite their references, proposing draft resolutions and collaborating with others during the informal consultations—all this as first-time participants!

As a teacher, I've been able to attend some wonderful workshops on MMUN, the Youth Impact Forum which is the MMUN's "next step" in preparing Montessori middle and high school students for social action, and an inspiring lecture by Scilla Elworthy on keys to peace building.

When the children remember this trip, they will probably remember the slow elevators and long committee sessions (going line by line approving their resolutions), but I hope they will also remember the passion and power they felt connecting with other engaged youth around topics of global importance. I see them applying themselves in new and amazing ways and as a teacher, that makes everything worth it.

Sweet dreams,


MMUN: Day 3

Dear Parents,

The students really seemed to settle into their committees today. It usually takes at least a day to get the language, motions, and procedures under one's belt. I think they will all have great feedback for how we can best prepare MMUN groups in the future, should this be something the school wants to continue.

Each committee passed both of their resolutions, which means they will all be read tomorrow in the General Assembly of the United Nations. What an honor and privilege! They may not realize the significance now, but reflecting back years from now, what an incomparable experience to speak and sit where leaders are daily making history. (At least that's what we hope.)

Tomorrow is the culmination of our event and our train ride back home. We load the buses for the UN at 7 AM. (Eek!) We will arrive into Union Station at 7:35 PM. Given such a long day, my hope is we all get some rest on the train. I will email everyone if the timing changes in any way.

Eating, socializing, resting, and living with your children has given me a whole new insight into who they are as people and as elementary schoolers. It is so funny how monocular our interactions can be throughout the school day. While we see it at school, here they are so clearly dynamic, amazing, and entirely silly children. Hopefully they have seen us teachers as dynamic and multi-dimensional as well. It's a healthy exercise to see each other in new contexts. As the girls spoke with Andreu and Pau tonight before the Social Night Party, I was grateful to have them see a sliver into my life as a mother. Deepening our relationships truly brings out the best in us all.

Pleasant dreams and we will see you tomorrow!


MMUN: Day 4

Dear Parents,

Home, sweet home! It is so lovely being back with family in our familiar, quiet, and impressive — yet not as overwhelming — city. (Can you tell my bias?) New York City is amazing and vibrant, yet Times Square (where the conference was held) is a whole other level of stimulation.

Our day yesterday started bright and early. We lined up to board the bus to the United Nations at 7 AM. By 8:15 we finally got on the bus and by 9 AM we were through UN security on our way into the General Assembly. The students sat in their committees. Representatives of each committee, elected by the group, read a summary of their draft resolutions at the UN General Assembly podium. All students from that committee were then asked to rise in acknowledgement of their draft resolution becoming a resolution by consensus (unless voting needed to occur). The process was powerful and efficient.

The students then heard from 13 year old Mikaila Ulmer, founder of Me and the Bees. She is an impressive speaker, entrepreneur, and fellow Montessori child. After her presentation, our Aidan students spoke with her on the courtyard where she invited them to come to the opening of her line of lemonade being sold at Whole Foods Markets in D.C. (May 12). I'll post more information as it becomes available. We also invited her to visit Aidan.

The children were incredibly patient as we waited for the bus, as we waited to leave the hotel, as we waited for our train, then the train delay, and finally the three hour train ride. This week we will discuss how best to share this experience with Upper Elementary and the wider Aidan community--perhaps a PA meeting.

It was incredible to see the students rise to the expectations of each day's events, to use the language of Parliamentary Procedure, and to connect with peers from around the world around such important global issues. (To give a small picture, there were almost 3,000 people attending the MMUN event, many from Canada, USA, China, Peru, Germany, Saudi Arabia, UK, Italy, etc.)

This upcoming week is a normal week with no special events! (Is that possible!?) I look forward to settling back in and seeing all of what the students accomplished in our absence! Huge kudos to Ms. Navarro for taking on the classroom in our absence and a huge thank you to Mr. Kendall for stepping in for Mr. Hurwitz. Thank you!