Classroom Simulations: Taking on Bashir, designing Airports in Shanghai and more

I’m a huge advocate of simulations in classrooms. You get students to take on role plays and enact within real life contexts and rest assured, these students will blow your mind away. We have traveled from Brazil to Sudan to China. From addressing the building of a factory in the Amazon to standing for elections in Sudan, these students have risen to the challenge beautifully.

For instance, the Brazil case study I designed demanded that each student group represent different interests: Perenco Oil, Ecowatch, the Brazilian middle class, the government and the Survival international Group. This played out on a popular TV show, where I took on the role of “Veronica”, a famous TV show hostess. What we got was “Candy forest” representing Ecowatch battling her way with an experienced VP of Perenco Oil, with the government trying hard to play neutral. What was fascinating was that the attacks were focused on Perenco, leaving the government relatively unscathed inspite of their supportive stance. I find this reveals so much about our understandings of international conflicts and more importantly, I hope, humbles students to realizing the complexities of real life scenarios.

The Sudan exercise too was such a delight. This could have gone on for hours! They had so much to say and even as the class time was up, they were fully pumped with ideas that were itching to come out! Student groups were told that they were all competing to be the next ruling party of Sudan and thereby, had to come up with an election campaign. The twist here was that each group was told that they were representing a particular faction: the African tribal group, the military generals, the economists, and the international relations focused groups. This is the outline each group got from me including information on the country's geography, economic, political and socio-cultural makeup.

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SUDAN ELECTIONS 2009

Current Situation: President Bashir has stepped down as President due to the Darfur crisis and international pressure. The seat of Presidency is vacant. A new election monitored by the UN is going on with 4 nominees as finalists.

Your group is 1 such team vying to be the future government of Sudan.

Your audience are the Sudanese people. They are tired of being viewed as victims and tired of apologizing and being shamed by the West. Afterall, it was a bad government and not bad people. They are proud and have a rich cultural heritage and want to make their mark in their own unique way.

Choose:

1) President nominee

2) International Relations Advisor

3) Economic Advisor

4) Education Advisor

5) Security & Diplomacy Advisor

Decide on the following for your campaign speech:

1) Your campaign promise – Core issues

2) Campaign motto “Yes we can” byline type

3) Target voter demographic- what is your strategy?

STEP 1: All groups give a presentation to the public on their plan for Sudan

STEP 2: President nominees take the stand. Cross-fire: President nominees consult their team and ask questions to each other

STEP 3: Audience asks further questions

STEP 4: Voting takes place

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In short, I m a big fan of simulations! More to come...

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