To culminate their month-long online simulation, in which they learned how to represent a country and make political agreements with other nations, Advanced Placement Human Geography and International Relations students attended the International Negotiation Project conference at Whittier College on Saturday.
During the conference, students were able to discuss the issues that they had been researching with delegates from other schools in person.
“Conducting negotiations face-to-face gave me a whole new perspective on the process,” Colleen Baskin ’19 said. “For weeks now, we have been doing this project online, but to have to speak out in front of other students and debate significant international issues in person really gives a sense of importance and excitement to the whole thing.”
Each of the course’s three classes was responsible for its own country, either South Korea, India or Russia, as decided by history teacher Nini Halkett and Joyce Kaufman, a professor of political science at Whittier College.
Students of the same nation were then divided into groups responsible for researching the one of four issues the conference focused on: health, human rights (refugees), economics and cyber security. In addition to understanding their country’s stance on their delegated issue, students communicated online with other schools to discuss the issues and make proposals to resolve them while adhering to their respective national interests.
Though the conference didn’t resolve the issues in a formal voting process or use a specific procedure, participants said that the international relations simulation allowed them to strengthen their diplomacy skills.
“It made me realize just how far diplomacy and respect goes, because in a room full of students who are representing countries with sometimes completely opposing views, you have to tread very carefully,” Baskin said.