Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fact-Finding Mission

Today we had a fact-finding session in class in which we addressed alleged cases of abuse against protesting mineworkers in the Moloquan (fake country) government.  Canadian mining companies based in certain areas supposedly carried out the violations. These companies and the government also relocated the Sheldouins, a local ethnic group, in order to support financial endeavors. As a result, we were separated into several human rights related groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Justice for all to address these issues.

 I was in a group with 8 other people, but we sectioned ours off so my classmate, Uriel, and I had the opportunity to work with one another. We were assigned an interview with the Moloquan Secretary for Defense, Yael Barack (played by our TA and advisor, Carlos). Mr. Barack was very in character. The whole thing seemed very silly at first, but then it became serious because Mr. Barack took the session very seriously. It was very formal and legitimate. We had to call in to set up appointments and during the talk, present ourselves in a way that didn’t offend the official.

When we stepped inside the reserved room, the first thing that we noticed was what looked like a high school intern dressed very formally and then Carlos, our TA and advisor wearing what looked like a pink women’s kameez from the Indian Subcontinent. He had a woven plate and vase shaped cup settled on the table and welcomed us in as members of Human Rights Watch NGO. Yael made it very difficult for us to ask questions throughout the interview. He insisted that we encourage monetary aid from the U.S, boasted about the mining industry, and ranted on and on about Moloqua’s waterfalls. We managed to survive, but as a suspecting government official, he ordered the guard to follow us around for the rest of the day.

In our afternoon class, the group was required to write up a legal memorandum discussing our findings. We made a Google doc and contributed to the writing. Altogether, It ended up being around 8 pages or so and we submitted it in a while before it was due (5 PM).

We avoided the guard by telling her that our flight was scheduled to depart in minutes. Although it was our only interview for the day, I had heard that Professor Brundige acting as a victim had done a great job at acting as well. Apparently, she cried. Some said that it was an Oscar worthy performance. I would have loved to witness it!

 Sultana, Pooja, Robson, J’nai, and I went over to the Cornell store to look around for a bit after class. I didn’t end up buying anything but instead walked over to the Olin library to turn in a book that I had checked out. Afterward, we walked up to the area near the clock tower and stayed there taking pictures and laughing.

I can’t believe that these three weeks are coming to an end. The people that I have met here at Cornell and the relationships that we have formed are invaluable. Learning as much as I have would have never been a possibility for me at El Cerrito High School. Now, I look forward to applying the knowledge that I have gained in real life and sharing my observations and experiences with community members and schoolmates. I hope to be able to inspire them to bring about positive change in this world.

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