Seventh graders visit United Nations, learn how world issues are resolved

On April 7, 138 students from Middlebrook’s seventh grade green team and 20 adults took a trip to the United Nations building in New York City to learn about the intergovernmental organization’s role in world issues.

“As part of our global studies in seventh grade, we spend a lot of time discussing and problem-solving world issues,” said seventh grade social studies teacher Cindy Beck-Moore.

“The UN, so close to Wilton, plays a role in many of the world issues we cover, so it seems natural for the students to explore the organization first hand.”

The Wilton group went on guided tours, led by international docents, of the newly renovated UN building. Beck-Moore said the students explored many parts of the UN building, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, and “exhibits that cover everything from genocide to women’s rights.”

“They also got to see many of the ‘gifts’ given to the UN by countries from all corners of the world,” she said. “The gifts — a long standing tradition — often reflect the culture of the country giving the gift, and often reflect the concept of peace in some way.”

Since the UN is technically international territory given to the international organization by the City of New York, Beck-Moore said, the students got to see diplomats from all over the world.

The New York City field trip also included a visit to the UN’s bookstore, gift shop and post office, where letters are postmarked with an international stamp; and lunch at the Copacabana Steakhouse restaurant in Port Chester, N.Y

Curriculum incorporation

For the seventh grade green team, Beck-Moore said, the trip took place at a great time “as students were immersed in a unit on international challenges.”

“Each student selected a UN agency or body to be part of — they had a choice of eight — and spent several days looking into the background of issues, such as the Zika Virus, North Korea aggression, air pollution in China and Mexico, the Refugee Crisis, and other such topics,” she said. “They were then assigned a role in the problem.”

For the Zika virus, for example, one student was a member of the Olympic Committee, another assumed the role of a female Olympic Athlete, another played a representative of the CDC, and so on, said Beck-Moore.

“All the stakeholders met with the ‘UN chair people’ for the agency or body leading that discuss, such as the World Health Organization — all students,” said Beck-Moore.

The day after their trip to the UN building, Beck-Moore said, each student group met — in character — and used what they learned in New York City to discuss what should be done to solve the issues.

After an hour-long discussion, the each group had 30 minutes to come up with a unanimous resolution. While it was easier for some groups than others, Beck-Moore said, it was all “pretty neat to watch.”