by Michele Rooney
One of my favorite things about teaching is that it can provide you with so many unique learning opportunities and adventures. Three years ago, the teacher who taught the Model United Nations course was suddenly unable to go on the trip to New York with her students, and I was offered the opportunity to take the group in her place. The simple thought of being responsible for 10 17-year-olds in New York City made me incredibly nervous, but I accepted, and a month later, we were off to The Big Apple.
Since that trip, I have taught the course, and every year, I take a group of juniors to New York to participate in the world’s biggest Model United Nations conference. And I have to confess that every year, I love it even more. This year, my dedicated students have slaved over position papers, research about their country, parliamentary procedure, and many oral presentations in order to prepare themselves for this educational yet thrilling experience.
Our country this year is Afghanistan, which came as a disappointment to my students, and a exciting challenge to me. It can be difficult to convince adolescents to argue in favor of something they’re completely against, which is exactly what I worked very hard to do. Anyone who is even semi-informed about the world knows that Afghanistan is not exactly an attractive place to be — especially for women! These kids feel like traitors for defending such a country, but I think that little by little they’re beginning to understand the skill involved in debating issues from a contrary point of view.
Of course, all work and no play would make Miss Michele a very dull teacher, so we certainly have reserved time to take in the amazing sites of New York City. There will be trips to museums, the Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, Chinatown, Soho, etc. And, of course, we wouldn’t miss out on the chance to see a Broadway show!! I’m delighted that my students agree that we should see Les Miserables — it just happens to be my all-time favorite!
So, maybe we teachers will never be filthy rich, but if we play our cards right, we just might get some all-expense paid trips to some beautiful, exciting cities; even if we do have to take a bunch of hormone-crazed adolescents with us!