A guest blog I wrote for Global Partnerships about using simulations and scenarios to teach peace.
A year ago I started resourcing this curriculum writing project in Lao PDR. This visit is my last for this project. It has been exhilarating to watch new capacities being built in people and institutions here. I have tremendous hope because of the transformation I have witnessed throughout this project. I have learned much from helping to translate the concepts of peacebuilding into such a unique and exotic context.
Thanks MCC, MCC Lao Staff, IGE and the individuals who have touch my life on this sojourn.
When life serves you up desiccated fish, make a fish/peanut sauce for rice. Yum!
In the 1960s, for 9 years, the US conducted 580,000 bombing runs over Laos as part of a covert campaign that was kept hidden from the US Congress. Hundreds of millions of baseball sized munitions called ‘bombies’ were dropped on Laos with a sizable percentage which didn’t explode. 45 years after the last one was dropped, the duds called Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) continue to kill about 100 persons a year in Laos. These UXO also wound and maim hundreds more a year. I urge you to watch the video on Bombies found here on Youtube.
In the capital city of Vientiane, an information center called COPE is educating thousands of Lao youth who have not grown up with the legacies of that war. Documenting the heinous act of bombing, the drive to ban cluster munitions and coping with limb loss by victims of bombies are all part of the displays in this center.
The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Visitors Center also documents the increasing sophistication of designing prosthetic devices for those who have lost limbs due to UXO explosions and other accidents.
In last posting I described a case study from group work that had parents favoring a son over a daughter. This case was further illuminated yesterday by using the simple conflict analysis tools of the conflict tree and actor mapping.
These tools made clear the effects on the individuals in the family as well as the family as a whole. The mapping of actors also revealed the costs of the conflict like siblings who don’t love each other, no respect of the parents and a lack of self-confidence in the girl. One frightening consequence of this conflict was that the daughter ran away, a dangerous prospect in an area of the world where human trafficking is a real problem.
So these simple tools, developed and refined over the past years in many places around the world from urban to rural in Africa, Asia and Latin America, continue to surface otherwise hidden faces of conflict.
I type this on a 14 hour flight somewhere over the North Pacific flying between Washington D.C. and a connection stopover in Tokyo. It is on these long haul legs that I enter the ‘nether zone’ where I am neither here nor there and all I have is my tiny seat and my thoughts. Well, I also have unlimited violence served up on a 5 inch screen as continuously as I want to expose myself to it. By the time I get on my last 6 hour leg to Bangkok my mind is numb from fatigue and so that is definitely not creative time.
I am grateful for battery technology that gives me computing power for a large portion of the flight. This is the time when I tend to design much of the next training or find the creativity to write the next blog series.
I am amazed at the psychology built into airplanes. 350 people packed into a tiny space for hours. More than once I have gone a whole transoceanic flight without talking to the person sitting beside me. Being an introvert that is not difficult but I do sometimes feel guilty about such aloofness. In peacemaking, connection is a key human need yet I allow silence to prevail.
I’ve had a Twitter account since 2009 but only a few weeks ago really learned to use it. Before that I could not think of one use for it in education…it seemed such a frivolous waste of time. But students use Twitter with more regularity. I was shocked to hear that Facebook is ‘so old fashion.’
Just because the trendy new gadgets that frequently vie for our hard earned dollars show up in our classrooms with each new batch of students, doesn’t mean that if we have them too, our teaching will get any better. Clawing ones way up the learning curve is only the front end of successfully using technology in Education.
But once I actually figured out how to use Twitter and hear others share how they are using it, I begin to let my imagination run wild and came up with a few uses. A few examples are below…
- Does anyone under age 25 read email? Twitter could be used to supplement class announcements and reminders.
- It could be used to have a whole class scavenger hunt where sending an assignment relevant picture, retweeted article or research link wins points.
- Lastly, I could keep my class apprised of my travels should they, or you the reader for example, be interested.
Hea good buddy, my Twitter handle is @JonRudy. While traveling this August, you can find my tweets at #jonslaotrip3
It is gratifying to see a thread of the content that I developed and presented at Etown College and/or MPI being woven into a training conducted by someone else. In a recent training with religious and government leaders, some of my former students facilitated a module on identity I had recently taught them.
Of course the peacebuilding materials I develop are not truly my own. I stand on the shoulders of giants who have formed and given the foundation for my development as a facilitator. The content I use is woven from the fibers of a myriad of trainers and trainings. The wisdom and experience in this field of peace is cumulative and I add a small measure of tint to the already vivid colors in the strands of knowledge.
Because the educational model I am immersed in is a learning model, the wisdom of thousands of participants in peacebuilding training from literally a hundred countries is collectively added to the tapestry of peace education. So while I might have my own unique way to present the modules being taught, the fabric of content connects us all past, present and future.
Education will be the theme in the coming blog postings while on this trip to Laos. I have chosen this focus partly because I am finishing up a Teaching in Higher Education Certificate course from Temple University so that topic is fresh on my mind. The courses in this certificate have really empowered me as someone involved in facilitating learning.
Another reason for the theme is because my travel to Laos is as a technical adviser to a peacebuilding curriculum writing process. This is a 10 month involvement for me that will involve 3 trips to Laos by the end of October. See my blog posts from the first trip in January. This curriculum is envisioned to be flexible enough to support college age youth in developing a more peaceful home and school life while offering capacity for communities facing ethnic and/or religious conflict. The government of Laos has an interest in utilizing the curriculum once it is done.
Lastly, I have put an enormous amount of time into redesigning my fall course entitled Conflict Dynamics and Transformation. Updating all aspects of this course including online-course tools, I have spent my summer immersed in many facets of teaching and learning. What follows in subsequent posts are some of my thoughts.