Global awareness: empathy & impact - Mid-Pacific Institute

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Global awareness: empathy & impact

Pacific and Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) Annual Academic WorldQuest Competition

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Scot Allen

Seven teams from Mid-Pacific competed in the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) Annual Academic WorldQuest Competition, a quiz bowl designed to promote international education, on November 19. The event was one of two PAAC events held in celebration of Hawaii International Education Week.

Students answered challenging questions on topics ranging from "Women in Technology" and "Infectious Diseases" to "Current Events." One of Mid-Pacific's teams placed first on Oahu among teams that did not make the top three overall, a considerable feat among the 67 teams at the Hawaii Convention Center. Team members included Andrea Lee, Tyler Sakima, Gianluca Vassalli and Richard Winter.

"I was proud of the students for their performance in WorldQuest," said Natasha Schultz, social studies teacher. "It demonstrates their commitment to learning about global issues and institutions and how they impact our lives. This kind of activity contributes to a more knowledgeable and globally aware population."

In addition to WorldQuest, the PAAC also held an interschool conference on "The Plight of the Refugee." 100 students experienced a simulation designed to increase empathy for those forced to flee their homes. Everything the students encountered -- including being separated from their families, a lack of resources at the resettlement camp, and exploitation by human traffickers -- are based in reality. They also learned about the process refugees go through to enter the United States, as well as efforts by the Pacific Gateway Center to help refugees transition to a life in Hawaii.

Rather than compete against other schools, the students were mixed together with students from other schools and experienced the simulation as "families." According to Schultz, replicating this simulation in the classroom would be difficult due to time constraints and the number of volunteers required. "It would also lack the value of meeting and interacting with students from various public and private schools in the state," she said. "The refugee simulation, in particular, is timely, but beyond that, it was focused on empathy building and humanizing an urgent global issue. I think we can talk about the refugee crisis without stopping to recognize the reality of the circumstances that the refugees flee from and endure on their journey."

"I felt that I was deceived a lot during the simulation," said student Tyler. "When we were in the temporary camp and had to move to the permanent camp, a smuggler took us to the camp without going through any of the proper procedures. As a result, my 'family' was sent back. Later on, an immigration worker attempted to sell me an immigration form for my shoes. However, I later learned that the immigration form was fake."

"Being an international school is an essential aspect of our Mid-Pacific community," said High School Principal Thomas McManus. "We are successfully educating students with global competency in part because our students themselves come from such diverse backgrounds, including a large international student population. Participating in activities with great partners like PAAC enables our students both to show what they know and to immerse themselves in real world questions that we know they can be instrumental in helping to answer in the future."

  • The winning Mid-Pacific WorldQuest team with the judges.

  • Kelley Ota and Luke Savage moving with their family through the immigration line.

  • Tyler Sakima and his family being questioned by an immigration officer.

  • A group shot of the Model UN and PAAC Club students.