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Period 1 - Isaac Millians
Session 4 Material: Coping: Multi Ethnic Groups at the Bargaining Table

Session 4 Focus Question: Why is it important for every individual to have human rights and how do those rights contribute to the well-being equality of society as a whole?

For our last session, we used another whole-class activity from the CALIS Database, this one being a simulation of the legislative process of a country divided along ethnic lines. Each of the 4 ethnic groups could propose laws at the start of each round, advocate for them and build support, and then vote for them at the end of the round. However, each group held a different amount of power within the legislature, which was influenced by the laws being passed. The activity was a bit too complex to cover in just a 60-minute timeframe, so we simplified the rules slightly to emphasize the core message of the simulation. One primary core message was how political and social realities obstruct equality in some countries. The other more substantially connected to our question, and was about the overwhelming importance of equal human rights. This was demonstrated by emphasizing how people are affected and act when they are not afforded their full human rights, sometimes leading to the society that mistreats them to be stabilized due to this fact.

We began the session with an icebreaker about the students’ favorite holiday. We then launched into an explanation of the rules and handed out the necessary sheets, which lasted around 15 minutes. Each student was assigned to one of 4 ethnic groups, each holding a different place in the fictional country of Zabros and each with different objectives. We then went around for 5 minutes to clarify any questions they had, and to communicate what kind of laws they could pass to achieve their goals. We connected this to previous activities which utilized the 4 World’s Theory to categorize the concerns they could address. 

There was initially a bit of confusion, but the students quickly acclimated to the game once it started and began actively engaging with its different facets. Groups began visiting one another to gain support for their laws. Student A from the weakest group, the Obos, agreed to vote for another group law if they voted for the Obos’s. The first round was categorized by groups trying to identify the rights they lacked and passing laws to improve their own rights, connecting with the central concept. In order to achieve the funding for this to happen, these laws would incidentally lead to another group losing power. One interesting element was that the powerful group, the Zabos, initially did not seem to realize that their goal was not necessarily to cooperate with the weaker groups, but instead further strengthen their own authority. Student B suggested a law to make murder punishable by the death penalty, and although it did not improve the rights of other groups, it also did not affect any groups’ power, nor promote their own. This was passed unanimously, but when later laws ended up diminishing their voting power slightly, the Zabos began thinking of laws to punish the other groups and weaken them. There was a lot of activity during this section, as students discussed what to vote for and to judge how they might be affected. We kept a table on the board showing the laws being passed and the changes in voting power among groups.

During the second round, there was a lot more focus on how laws might shift power, and who deserved to have their power weakened in exchange for a strengthening of their own. Student C from Zabos expressed some dissatisfaction over this, especially as they had some difficulty forging alliances with other groups. During the second round of voting, many groups began keeping track of what groups had voted against them previously, and gave retribution accordingly. They understood that they had to focus on improving their rights, but became caught up in the politics of the matter, much as a real legislative body might. 

At the end of the activity we held a brief discussion of the students’ thoughts and takeaways from the activity. Student D stated that the division of power was not fair, and that it was very difficult for their group, the Obos, to pass laws to improve the fulfillment of their human rights. We provided some closing statements on the activity, thanked the class and provided some contact information through the slides.

From this topic and our previous work in session 2, we definitely realized that activities were the easiest way to engage students and have them apply the concepts we were trying to teach them. I would not necessarily do a full period activity like we did in session 4 should necessarily take up the majority of the time, but I think any future TIRP assignments I do would incorporate more simulations and games to compliment discussions and learning experiences. The topic covered today was definitely the most complex of the ones we’ve done so far, and deeply connected with what I’m learning in my IR class, Conflict Mediation and Negotiation, as well as the general focus areas of IR regarding fundamental human needs, how to achieve them, and the inherent instability that comes with nations that do not promote normative values (e.g. democratic peace theory, etc.).

From teaching and engaging with local youth through TIRP, I definitely gained a more holistic understanding of my topics in IR, as well as more skills regarding tutoring in general (not including the general sense of wellbeing that comes with engaging in meaningful community service). This experience also strengthens some of the most vital concepts anyone in the realm of politics should embrace: advocacy for values that improve society, and the education of others on how to identify what they believe could be better about society and how to possibly help to create that change. The tutoring we engaged in these past 4 weeks might have been on a smaller scale, but the impact it might have had on even one individual student cannot be undervalued, and the lessons it taught me about how to teach others about vital concepts like human equality are something that I will build upon throughout my time at USC.

Messages In This Thread
Period 1 - Isaac Millians - by CALIS - 09-15-2023, 03:40 PM
RE: Period 1 - Isaac Millians - by Isaac Millians - 10-08-2023, 06:42 AM
RE: Period 1 - Isaac Millians - by Isaac Millians - 10-13-2023, 05:49 AM
RE: Period 1 - Isaac Millians - by Isaac Millians - 10-21-2023, 07:01 AM
RE: Period 1 - Isaac Millians - by Isaac Millians - 11-05-2023, 07:27 PM

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