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Period 1 - Isaac Millians
Thank you for participating in TIRP service-learning outreach!

Your reports are the basis for academic credit.  Whether or not you are seeking a credit option, reports are required as a university record of service-learning efforts and impact in local schools.

Required Format:
Session 1 materials: [The first line of your report is the session number and full title of the database item(s).]
Focus Q: [On a new line, list your focus question from your TAP form. If you changed the question then add the new version after the TAP version.]
*** For the minimum of 3 student specifics, do not refer to students by name; instead call them Student A, B or C.
*** For the minimum of 500 words, guiding questions are here:

Use clear paragraph structure. If you include too much focus on the step-by-step process of the lesson rather than substance, you may be asked to revise your report.
*** The webboard is public. If you include names, commentary or observations, you will need to revise your post.

To Post:
1. For each report, select Post Reply.  (Do not select New Topic)
2. Copy/paste from your Word file and save a copy until after the semester is over.
3. Before pasting, confirm that you have met the minimum of at least 500 words.
4. Each report must be submitted by midnight within 3 calendar days after each session.

A CALIS staff member will review your report each week and post a message below of the scoring for your performance evaluation.
We welcome any questions or concerns you have about scoring.
On time: 0/3
Substantive: 6/6
Student Specific: 6/6
Total: 12/15
Great Report! Glad to see that the activity was a success!
-PS, 10/31

Session #2
On Time: 0/3
Substantive: 6/6
Student Specific: 6/6
Total: 12/15
Good report! You’ve made some detailed observations of the social settings in class. Please try to be on time for your next reports
-PS, 10/31

Session #3
On Time: 0/3
Substantive: 6/6
Student Specific: 6/6
Total: 12/15
Your team seems to have done a great job simplifying the concepts and making them more applicable by using different mediums! Please try to be on time for your last report
-PS 10/31

On Time: 0/3
Substantive: 6/6
Student Specific: 6/6
Total: 12/15
Thank you so much for your report! Very happy to see that TIRP has given you a more holistic perspective of IR.
-PS, 11/7
Session 1 Materials: Equality is an Ideal: Dimensions & Distinctions

Focus Q: How do we evaluate and apply the worlds of equality?

The exercise we utilized asks students to consider the ways that the equality (and inequality) of institutions affect their lives, and the lives of Americans as a whole. We also wanted to use it to help the students improve their capacity to discuss personal beliefs with each other, and come to a consensus on topics where there might be disagreement.

 The activity begins with a continuity activity involving 5 different expressions of equality: equal rights, equal treatment, equal political access, equal political influence, and equal opportunity. First, we first had them engage with the topic by asking them to consider some rights enshrined in the constitution, and what they have to do with equality. Student A mentioned freedom of speech, but could not name the amendment it was a part of. We also went over what we meant by each form of equality, and gave an example for each. We then had the students individually assign a point value to each form of equality based on how well the United States guarantees each one, and then provide an example of how the US is doing well or failing in that regard. During this time, we walked around to check in on how the class was handling the activity. A few asked us to give another definition for some of the terms. Many of the students wrote down numbers for most, but we noticed around half the class seemed to get stuck somewhere or left 1 or 2 blank, and tried our best to check in with students who had not completely filled out the sheet. Once the individual portion was over, we asked some students to give us their top ranked form of equality and their bottom ranked form of equality, and used the interactive whiteboard to tally their responses. While equal opportunity and equal political opportunity tended to get the lowest, there was not much obvious correlation between the responses. As we had already used up half the allotted time by this point, we moved on to the four worlds activity.

We began the four worlds activity by asking the students what the “American Dream” meant to them, or what they had already learned about it. There was some hesitancy around this question, although Student B eventually answered that it was related to the concept of equality, which naturally connected back to the subject we were trying to teach in the previous activity. We introduced the four worlds we wanted to look at—political, economic, social, and cultural—and tried to explain what each meant, while connecting them to the forms of equality we were dealing with in the previous activity. We then went to the next slide showing how we had divided these worlds into some related aspects in order for them to think about each world individually, although as we discovered later, we may not have devoted sufficient time to explaining these subdivisions. At this point, we passed around the handouts and gave out the colored assignment cards, forcing the students to rearrange themselves according to their card, and having each group rank the most important factor for their world in regards to the American Dream. Some groups understood what they were asked to rank better than others. The political group seemed to understand their topics the most, while there was some confusion from the economic group, where Student C asked for a definition on “infrastructure”. There were also questions about “roles in society”, “shared values”, and “tolerance”. After the groups had decided on their ranking, we told them to make their own groups of 4 with a person from each world. This section was harder to coordinate than the last, and it took more encouragement to get students to reconcile their different lists to create a comprehensive one. Most students did discuss and evaluate the worlds of equality they dealt with, but the combined lists could be more of what the group agreed was generally the most important, with the last four of five being in a mixed order; however, I found even college students preferred to decide on a general top 2-5 rather than an absolutely ranked one, so it is quite understandable that things turned out this way. In one group of Students D, E, F, and G, D and E were working on a different list than F and G, so we had to step in to foster a four person discussion about how they valued each world in comparison to others, and what their combined list should look like. We requested that they write their rankings up on the white board according to the groups. Finally, we closed the lesson by evaluating what the commonalities and differences between the lists were, and asked them to think about how they evaluated the worlds differently as a single group, and then as a composite group.

I believe there was success in regards to the students evaluating equality, and although there were some obstacles regarding application, the students all successfully engaged with the material and the worlds of equality in some form. We definitely have to work on how to foster group work in a more natural way, and perhaps be clearer with instructions and definitions before we start activities in the future. Group collaboration aside, a larger core difficulty we faced during the first session was having the students provide answers to questions posed to the entire class. In this regard, we could do better in simplifying the question if no one answers, or narrowing the range of answers it is looking for. There is a wheel of names on the whiteboard we were told we could utilize, and while this would likely be quite effective, I think not having to use it during our limited time with the class would provide a more meaningful experience for both us and the students.

I also believe the students may have stopped explicitly considering the American Dream during the four worlds section, but as they were still discussing how each related to the concept of equality, I think it being about the “American Dream” specifically ended up being unimportant to the overall lesson.
Session 2 Materials: What are human rights? Lesson 8 (Equality and Human Rights Commission), Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights

Focus Q: What are human rights, and how do we evaluate which human rights take priorities over the other.

We used two activities for our second session: one from the CALIS database, and one from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is based in the United Kingdom. We combined the commission’s presentation with the CALIS handout to summarize and expand on what we covered in last week’s session. We then used the commission’s marketplace activity to have them actively engage with the information and consider what rights they believe to be the most fundamental to humanity.

We began session 2 with an icebreaker, where every student told us their name and one subject they were passionate about. Besides trying to compensate for the difficulty we had establishing a personal connection during our last session, we also wanted the students to get used to sharing their personal opinions with the class within the context of the TIRP lessons. We began the lesson on human rights by asking students to name some rights they were aware of. It helped to also phrase the question in terms of what humans need to survive, as it got the students in the mindset that human rights were not just ideational, but could be quite physical in nature. We quickly went over the basic definition of human rights provided in the lecture and gave out the handouts for the CALIS activity, which included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 5 case studies where human rights are diminished to achieve a certain goal. For the sake of time, the students only looked over the Declaration and the 4th case study, where the government controls the kind of education people receive based on their aptitude and skills. After a short period of reading, we asked the students what articles may have been violated in the case study, and what their personal thoughts on the case were. Student A said the government violated Article 26, the right to education. Student B said the government was wrong for restricting education, and said they wouldn’t want to live in that kind of society.

After this discussion, we moved on to the main portion of the session: the marketplace activity. In the marketplace activity, the students are divided into “buyers” and “sellers” of human rights. The sellers have 5 human rights each (noted on small pieces of paper we passed out, whose items were pulled from the European Convention on Human Rights) they can sell for a variable price, and the buyers have $1000 with which they can buy these rights from the sellers. The two groups bargain with each other individually to get their desired rights while the buyers record the amount of money they have spent and have left. The students were configured in similar groups of 3-4 like last week, with around half of each table belonging to one group. The students were very receptive to this activity, and immediately began discussing the rights before them in a qualitative manner. While some of the engagement simply stemmed from the fun they had when bargaining, the buyers and sellers actively thought about what necessities each right provided, and why each mattered to society. Student C and student D discussed freedom from torture; student C (buyer) stated that the right was not important if you weren’t arrested, while student D argued that it was another guarantee of safety, which should matter more than anything. I asked them to consider that the US as a whole was divided on the death penalty, with some states having banned it and some allowing it. I noticed student E (buyer) had filled up his table of rights, but was continuing to discuss the rights that other sellers had. After around 15 minutes, we collected the cards and conducted a quick discussion where we asked the class which rights went for the most money, and which the least. The right to life generally seemed to be the most highly valued, although student F asked for an explanation of what exactly it meant. We then switched the groups in class, which generated a similarly vibrant environment as it did before. This portion of the session lasted around 30 minutes, giving us some time for a short wrap up discussion. We ended by mentioning how although every right should be guaranteed, some situations lead to the restrictions of some rights in service of security or stability, as discussed in the opening section.

Overall, I have some reservations about the marketplace activity, but found it to be very effective and generally successful in achieving our goals. I feel like the marketplace is slightly reductive, and while it does end with a statement that all these rights are “guaranteed” and that nobody should have to choose between them, having part of the activity be reducing the importance of certain rights feels counter to this point. Despite this, it generated the kinds of discussions we were looking for, as it made students consider the nature of human rights, and how they would compare the rights against each other. In addition, the largest problem we had last week was having the students engage with each other about the topics we set before them, and the marketplace activity thoroughly achieved this. We would like to incorporate more active activities like this or our next 2 levels, which in themselves will likely lead to better discussions. There was also more interest in this week’s topic in general, which might be owing to the fact we took the time to explain the subject with more clarity.

The one thing that acts as a small hitch in our lesson is the fact that the class tends towards the same table groups, and most people are not very willing to walk across the classroom to talk to someone else. We could encourage the students to do this through the structure of a future activity, but the general social formation of the class may be something we are not really equipped to modify.
Session 3 Materials: Timeline - Legal History: Equal Rights Policy, Egyptian Speaks Out At Protest

Focus Q: To what extent is freedom inherent or attainable within the framework of the governing system?

We used two exercises from the CALIS database today, one on the domestic side, and the other on the international side. We started with the timeline, which focused on significant events in the history of equality in the United States. We followed that with the interview of Ali during the 2013 Egyptian protests, which included a video. Both have a general theme of progress behind them, with the timeline showing what rights were part of and obtained in the United States, while the other activity demonstrates how any citizen is able to advocate for the attainment of rights they believe they lack.

We began the session with an icebreaker, where we asked the students to describe something they were grateful for, or annoyed with. Student A said their family, which was a common response. These questions did help set the stage for our lessons, as it got the students to consider their own values and dissatisfactions, albeit on a personal level. We then distributed the handouts for the timeline, and projected an image of it through the slideshow. We explained that their job was to read the major events on the timeline (e.g. Declaration of Independence, Brown v. Board), and decide whether they had a positive or negative impact on equality in the United States. The activity not only shows what rights Americans have gained over time, but also how many of these rights were not inherent to the framework of our government, and how rights can be reversed if we do not continue to fight for their existence. We gave 2 examples using the Declaration of Independence and 3/5ths Compromise, and asked them to work by themselves initially, and then move into think pair share groups. After reconvening, we gave them pink and green post-it notes. We moved through each event on the timezone while giving more elaborate explanations, and if the students believed it was a step forward they would raise their pink post-it, and if they believed it was a step backwards they would raise their green post-it. The students seemed to be receptive to the activity, and everything generally followed how each evaluation would be expected to go. One moment of confusion was around Japanese internment, and after a period of silence Student B put up a pink post-it note in response to it. When I asked them why, they said it was because it guaranteed security for everyone, although I believe they may have been doing this as a joke. We explained that this was the mentality of the time, but that Japanese internment inflicted severe harm on thousands of Americans simply due to their heritage, and caused long lasting scars on the Japanese-American community. 

To begin the Egyptian Speaks Out activity, we distributed the handout and told the students to independently read the interview, telling them not to worry about the details and only providing basic information about the context for the protests. Once they had read most of the interview, we showed the video to the class, and we could hear some comments about how Ali clearly was. After the interview, we gave more context for the protests, and asked the students what Ali’s main dissatisfactions and concerns were. Student C said fascist theocracy, and Student D said allowing women to be abused by their spouses. Once we had a few others, we told them to work as a group to place these concerns into the four-worlds box on the handout, connected to what we did for Session 1. As we walked around I could see some groups had different ideas for where the issues should go. For example, Student E’s group put domestic abuse under cultural, while Student F’s group put it under social. We then communicated that the activity was meant to show how anyone regardless of who they are can advocate for the attainment of rights, and that the perceived framework of the system should not constrain them from being vocal about their beliefs. 

Overall, I believe the students were quite receptive to this session, especially since it used more mediums and more defined activities associated with it. I also think the topics were more accessible for them, although there may have been confusion around what the 2013 Egyptian protests were. However, I think last week’s activity may have better captured their attention and better communicated its topics better because it was more involved, so we’ll be doing something more similar to that for the last session.
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.

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