By Media Coordinator Alix Neenan
I’m a very opinionated person. So perhaps this was why my African studies teacher assigned me to be the Sudanese government in a Darfur simulation. Or maybe she just hates me and enjoys seeing eighteen other students yell at me asking why I was allowing the Janjaweed to murder the citizens of Darfur.
When I first received the assignment, I was very indignant. As a person highly invested in the anti-genocide movement and a high school student who tends to see things in a very black-and-white manner, there simply was no other side. Al-Bashir was like one of those villains in a Disney movie: scary and evil.
But then I realized, the debate wasn’t about trying to de-vilify Al-Bashir and the Khartoum government, but rather, transfer some of the culpability to other parties. The simulation wasn’t just a debate between the people of Darfur and Al-Bashir, or the Khartoum government versus the UN. My teacher had set up various groups in the simulation to be represented: the JEM and SLM, the European Union, China, the United States, Chad, and the Central African Republic were among those groups people in my class simulate.
Trying to represent the government of Sudan was a challenge. Essentially, it was eighteen other students yelling at me asking why I was allowing the Janjaweed to murder the citizens of Darfur.
I was suddenly Public Enemy No. 1 in my Africa class as my partner and I were interrogated. And I thought this was supposed to be a “friendly simulation.”
Of course, while I am complaining about the entire ordeal, I did actually get a lot out of it. I was able to understand that there was another side, maybe even if I couldn’t rationalize with it. I also learned that my peers — high school students in Connecticut — see things in black and white, but at least they’re seeing it.