Redwood Coast Montessori student Jayla Kan, representing Algeria, discusses women in politics.

Rejoice! Young local folks are thinking up a storm of solutions over at Redwood Coast Montessori in Manila, where eight eighth-graders virtually participated in Montessori Model United Nations last month. Equipped with months of research, these Humboldt-grown delegates hashed out some of the world’s most pressing issues Montessori-style with other students from around the globe.

Unlike traditional Model UN, Montessori Model UN doesn’t end with an awards ceremony. With that competitive factor removed, students are more genuinely invested in peaceful compromise, the conference’s organizers say.

RCM delegates prep for the summit. Photo: Redwood Coast Montessori.

The Redwood Coast Montessori students’ teachers, Sheree Shapiro and Michelle Dobrowolski, are very proud. “They have, sometimes, an understanding of culture and dynamics even in ways that maybe their parents or grandparents don’t — sensitivities and awarenesses. So their solutions have been really inspiring to hear,” Shapiro told the Outpost.

What are some of these solutions?! It was up to student Ella Brown, who represented Algeria, to suggest how to advance women’s representation in politics. Support NGOs (non-profit, non-governmental organizations) that train women for political positions, Brown concluded, and help women from rural areas who can’t access or afford an education get one by funding technology or transportation access.

Working on climate change was Brown’s classmate Helen Little, who, also representing Algeria, pitched funding more educational media about climate change.

Redwood Coast Montessori student Lila W, representing Algeria, discusses a climate change proposal.

In the committee on women in economics, Sierra Irwin, representing Mozambique, proposed implementing a Declaration of Human Standards that would classify healthcare, education, safe workplace standards and access to a livable wage as human rights. “If you’re not empowering half the world, it’s like the world is running on half capacity,” Irwin told the outpost. Investing in ensuring access to these goals and working toward equitable representation is “proactive,” because “it will save money in the long run if we do it now,” she said.

Elsewhere in the conference, students in the disaster risk reduction and climate change committees helped develop a system where countries of similar climate and topography “share data for green energy development and proactive risk avoidance through disaster-resilient architecture and planning,” Shapiro shared.

“Our students understand that money and power make the world go round,” Shapiro said. “You’re not necessarily going to create systemic change unless you help people understand that it serves the economy and it serves the government to make these decisions.”

The solutions are “mind-blowing to me, just to see that kind of global thinking,” Dobrowolski beamed. “It’s exciting for me to know that they are going to be our future adults making decisions.”

Though reflective of actual current relations, attending virtually was weird, students said. Any other year, they would’ve gone to the conference in New York City, and would have visited Washington, DC as well. But it wasn’t bad. One student found it easier to speak up and feel confident online, and all said the collaboration with other delegates worked and was fun overall. (Plus, Shapiro and Dobrowolski said they’re all going to take a trip after the pandemic, anyways!)

Hooray for young people taking on big topics.

Redwood Coast Montessori student Sierra Irwin, representing Mozambique, makes that country’s pitch for supporting women in the economy.