Have you ever imagined being a student in the morning and turning into a diplomat in the afternoon? Along with three other APU students, I got the chance to experience nearly one week long of diplomacy simulation as part of International Network of Universities (INU) Student Seminar of Global Citizenship and Peace. The seminar is held yearly by INU, within which APU is a member university, in cooperation with Hiroshima University which acts as the host every year.
This year, the theme is ‘Indigenous Rights in the Global Context,’ highlighting the dynamics between indigenous communities around the globe and the nation states as well as the increasingly interconnected globalizing world. The main part of the seminar is divided into lectures and diplomacy simulation. In the lectures, which were held in the morning, we learned about issues pertaining the indigenous people around the world, with regional case studies from South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and South America. We also got a session on ethical decision making, equipping us with a way to think through ethically complicated situation often found in international as well as intercultural problem solving situations. After the lectures each day, we took on the role of diplomatic officers in a miniaturized United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session on Indigenous Rights. The simulation also ran for nearly a week, starting with country groups formulating amendment draft on a UN resolution, continued with negotiations among countries on the drafts and the amendments and culminated in a UNGA role play in which participating countries debated and voted on the final resolution.
The approach of having a diplomacy simulation alongside conventional lecture provide an opportunity to see the things we learned in the situation closer to that of the real world. Like many other international problems, the issue of indigenous people’s rights is never one sided. Throughout the diplomacy session, most of the participants got assigned to a country different from their nationality. For instance, while I come from Indonesia, I was assigned Republic of Congo together with other participants. None of us were Congolese, but for the week we have to put ourselves in the shoes of a diplomat from Republic of Congo. Combined with the fact that every country groups comprised of students from different nationalities, the whole week felt not only like an intensive course on indigenous people’s right, but also of international and intercultural understanding.
Aside of the core activities that revolve around the indigenous rights theme, participants of the seminar also got the chance to attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony held annually on August 6th, commemorating the dropping of atomic bomb in the city during the World War II. We also visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum and listened to firsthand account of an atomic bomb survivor, Ms. OGURA Keiko.
A fellow APU student, Nguyen ‘Rei’ Manh Van Duc (APM 2, Vietnam) felt that the most memorable experience during the week was the UNGA role play on the last day. Rei, who was assigned country group Indonesia, said that as an APM student, it is his first time exploring the world of diplomacy. He admitted that while APU prepared him for intercultural teamwork, he still learned a lot from the seminar. The simulation made the classroom lectures more engaging as he got to apply the knowledge to try solving a real problem. Rei said that he would definitely recommend this seminar to other APU students who want to challenge themselves in an international environment outside the campus. I second his opinion.
Students who participated in the seminar are given a chance to apply for the Henry Fong Award. The award provides a scholarship fund to go for an exchange program in an INU member university. In 2014, the award went to APU student Yesaya Raditya Christianto (APS 4, Indonesia). While the seminar itself is already pretty rewarding in its own right, the Henry Fong Award is yet another reason not to miss the application next year!