One way Sandstrom ensures the success of her students is by making sure that everyone’s expectations are in check with reality. She explained that she “get[s] them ready for it to prep them and let them know what’s expected of them and what they should expect.” She does this by creating an expectation sheet as well as showing an old conference video so that the students know exactly what to expect from the conference. By building certain expectations, she ensures that her conferences are successful and her students take them seriously. She also orchestrates a project on the European Union where students represent countries trying to get admitted into the EU such as Kosovo, Macedonia, and Croatia where students must explain why their country belongs in the EU. This experience sets the stage for model UN, and gives the students experience representing “not necessarily what students personally believe but what the country believes.”
Sandstrom’s favorite part of Model UN is “seeing students just get it.” Her students “dig in deep and go for it” sifting through, analyzing, and evaluating to make sure they are citing reliable sources. Some students even represent countries that they do not like, but they must overcome this dislike to support the country’s position. One of Sandstrom’s groups of students, for example, was representing Syria and at first was very apprehensive about representing a country like Syria, but then they got into it, were very enthusiastic, and ended up winning Best Position Paper and Best Resolution at the conference. Sandstrom has noticed that her students also gain confidence in their experience with the program. By the conference date, students are confident in their research, know their country, and speak to it. Some students who say that they are not going to give a speech even volunteer to go up and give a speech. Sandstrom has noticed other shy students “take it by horns and go with it” gaining the “I can do this” mentality. Sandstrom prepares her students for the conference down to the very last detail.
Sandstrom plans to continue her involvement with Model UN, and in the future, hopes to have a trainer come in to work with her students. Having people from outside come in to tell students about their experiences with Model UN makes it special for the students because many of the trainers were involved with Model UN growing up and can share their stories so that the students receive several perspectives. Students enjoy the program so much that they talk to their friends and siblings about it so that they are also looking forward to it. Some students are so excited that they even reserve countries making the event “the centerpiece of 8th grade” because it “hits so many standards and is so important to [the students’] research, public speaking, and writing skills.”