08 April 2014

IB Global Politics. One Village, Six People: peace building in post-genocide Rwanda #Rwanda20

The IB Glopo Year 1 folks spent the whole day today involved in the One Village, Six People simulation.  We spend about 13 weeks studying Peace and Conflict each year, focusing our attention on the Great Lakes region of Central Africa; from Kigali to Kivi, as a part of our inquiry into various aspects of power, legitimacy, sovereignty, interdependence, peace, conflict, violence, and nonviolence. We begin our inquiry with the Rwandan genocide; timed each year, of course, to coincide with the anniversary of the onset of the conflict that killed at least 800,000 men, women and children in 100 days. 

The One Village, Six People simulation is a six-party negotiation among Hutu and Tutsi villagers regarding competing land claims and local authority issues in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Students prepare by watching & debriefing the Ghosts of Rwanda documentary. We follow this by adopting one of six character roles for the simulation. Working in teams and individually, students define and articulate the interests, beliefs, emotions, and identities of their characters. In addition, students develop negotiation strategies and opening statements for their village meeting. The simulation itself places six individuals together; these folks must decide how to divide disputed territory in the village, the location and ownership of local cattle, as well as political leadership. Villagers include both Tutsis and Hutus; some victims of the genocide and some who have links to the genocidaires. Students then use this experience and the knowledge they have acquired about the Rwanda genocide to delve into a deeper study of the contemporary geopolitical challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Once the initial preparation was complete, the students and I spend time establishing group rules for discussion and the flow of the simulation. The simulation deals with topics that can be extremely sensitive; issues of sexually-absed violence, crimes against humanity, racism, and more. We were able to discuss, role play, and ultimately reach consensus on a set of practices and limits to how we would approach these topics during the simulation. The final pieces of the setup came in the form of sorting folks into their respective villages. Once this was complete, sudents began negotiating on the substantive issues of land ownership, collective livestock rights, and political power in their village. 

Out first reflection occurred after about an hour of negotiations; you can see the student responses here. Students were asked to consider their participation in the simulation from the perspective of their role in the simulation, as well as their perception of others' interests and actions during the negotiaonts. After a break for lunch and a second round of equally-demonstrative negotiations, we spent the final two hours debriefing on the broad range of student experiences in the simulation. Students also completed a written debriefing-responses can be seen here-that captured the totality of their experience in light of their actions and beliefs during the simulation.

While I have yet to seriously parse through the data above, my initial survey of student commentaries leave me very proud of everyone who participated today. Their level of maturity and willingness to take risks were coupled with their genuine desire to learn through the process of simulation; even if it was about the most difficult of topics, genocide. The pictures below capture some of the negotiation, outcomes, and other work and play form today's simulation. However, they really don't do these students' efforts justice-the quality and caliber of today's experience was second to none. 








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