Model UN conference gives sixth graders a taste of what it’s like to feed the world


Sixth graders from across Dallas ISD represented 20 countries at this year’s Model UN Conference held at Ellis Davis Field House in early May.

Leading up to the conference, the students worked on developing their skills in research, public speaking, reading, writing, problem-solving, and participating as global citizens. They came to the conference prepared to have fun and engage with fellow students to exchange ideas and knowledge about their respective countries. The students practiced their leadership and teaching skills as they “toured” the countries represented.

“As the sixth-grade students engage at the MUN conference, they begin to understand the necessary collaboration that the international community does to negotiate solutions to global problems throughout the world,” said Mary Athena Newton, instructional specialist in the district’s Social Studies department.

In keeping with the U.N. General Assembly’s declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the student conference raised awareness of millets – ancient grains that have been a nutritional mainstay in the diets of Asian and sub-Saharan African people for over 7,000 years.

Millet is used in preparing foods including cereals, breads, and traditional Indian recipes, Newton said. “The student representatives had to research how countries help sustain the world through the production and trading of millet – how they grow it, buy it, and distribute it to help address world hunger,” she said, noting that the United Nations voted to honor India this year for stepping in to supply millet to the world after Ukraine’s supply was disrupted by war with Russia.

At the conference, the students heard from photographer and guest speaker Peter Menzel, co-author of What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets. On a livestream sponsored by Dallas ISD partner Social Studies Skill Services and its CEO Aaron P. Willis, Menzel told the students about a mission by various countries to create a sustainable plan and process to feed the people of the world. Each student received a copy of the book he co-authored with writer Faith D’Aluisio.

“The students enjoyed the camaraderie and the exchange of ideas, food, and culture from around the world,” Newton said. Musicians from district partners Bandan Kora and the African Drums and Dance Ensemble gave the students the opportunity to engage in history through traditional African dance and lyrical music. And the four-time Dallas ISD drill team champs from E.D. Walker Middle School led the opening ceremony.

Below are the participating schools:

  • Ben Franklin International Preparatory Academy
  • Sam Tasby Middle School
  • Alex Sanger Preparatory School
  • Stevens Park Middle School
  • Rosemont Upper Elementary
  • School for the Talented & Gifted at Pleasant Grove
  • O.W. Holmes Humanities/Communications
  • Academy Henry W. Longfellow Career Academy
  • Solar Preparatory School for Girls
  • Robert T. Hill Middle School
  • Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School
  • E.D. Walker – ROTC

Countries represented were: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of S. Korea, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe.


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