Students explore issues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and effective communication
When students are exposed to diplomacy as a concept and as a set of skills, they learn more about teamwork, develop rapport and respect, and are challenged to resolve a shared problem. Recently the Bullis 9th grade Human Geography class participated in a diplomacy simulation situation in which a hypothetical persecution crisis required compromise and solutions. The simulation, designed by the U.S. Diplomacy Center and guided by Upper School Social Studies Teachers Allison Ewing, Kristin Kowalew, and Benjamin Mosteller, presented a fascinating exercise that allowed students to explore issues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and effective communication.
Last summer, Kristin Kowalew participated in the simulation in a teachers' workshop with the World Affairs Council-DC and visited the U.S Diplomacy Center. She then collaborated with colleagues Ewing and Mosteller to bring the simulation challenge to Bullis. As part of a unit on population and migration, the aim for the 9th Grade Human Geography students was to represent various stakeholders among fictitious countries and parties and focus on the persecution of a religious minority. No winners were selected in the exercise; instead, students worked together in groups to understand the problem from all sides, to communicate various views, and to reach compromise through crisis solutions that all parties could find acceptable.
The refugee crisis scenario involved a fictitious religious sect, the Rubits, in the equally fictitious country of Budan. Students represented various involved countries, as well as the U.S. Department of State, the UN, and a non-profit organization. They worked together at differing levels of discussion to propose various solutions to reach a consensus to resolve the crisis. Some proposals included resettling the Rubits in their home country with additional security; providing funds for the refugee camp; placing sanctions on Budan for persecution; changing laws in the country to forbid persecuting religious groups; and implementing educational programs to teach cultural literacy and empathy.Layered and multi-purpose, the diplomacy simulation engaged students in lively and meaningful discussions that helped to develop skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, empathy and insight, and awareness of global issues. In being challenged to create solutions, students learned the significance of diplomacy in building world peace and global respect.