A dear friend of Global Politics (GPS) was back this week serving in multiple capacities. That’s right! Mr César Guedes came into our GPS classes to kick off the GPS Visiting Expert series.
The GPS Visiting Expert Series is a chance for our students to meet with practitioners in the field of Global Politics so students can get to know their work, their career paths and some of the decisions and challenges they have faced along the way and how they have met these challenges.
In addition, as students have two valuable internal assessments for GPS (well, Higher Level GPSers have two…), our visiting experts provide deeper insight into the issues that students are exploring through their Engagement Activity (EA). The EA is an over a year-long process where students identify a political issue that they are passionate about and explore the political challenges connected to the issue not just by researching but by having conversations with decision-takers, policymakers, and other stakeholders who might be impacted in some way by the political issue we have chosen.
High Level GPSers have to give two in-depth 10-minute presentations which are a bit like ‘Start Here’ from Al Jazeera or a Council of Foreign Relations podcast. They are video recorded in one take (!!!). These presentations are fascinating and detailed. Students get to choose the overall topic, theme, and case study which needs to be analysed through one of the following GPS categories: Border, Environment, Health, Identity, Poverty, or Security.
For our Year 2 students, with over 20 years of experience working with the United Nations, César served as their expert consultant. He gave them time to share ideas and case studies and was a great resource of information.
“I shared with César my idea about what the current domestic state of affairs says about larger issues relating to security in places such as El Salvador. César gave me a sense of how I might link this to the wider context of global politics, using other examples to illustrate the connection.” recounted Ivan after his discussions with César.
Miyu noted that “…with my issue of second-hand clothing and humanitarian assistance dumped in places like Ghana and elsewhere, the so-called ‘Obroni Wawu’ circumstance, César encouraged me to focus in on how other domestic production has been impacted by other ‘feel good’ actions like clothing drives and food drives in wealthier countries. He also suggested that I look at the impact, for example, on the domestic textile industries of places like Ghana and Tanzania, which had a rich tradition of local artisans weavers and seamstresses making their own cloth. Mostly women by the way.”
Our students all learned a lot as a result of César’s wise counsel.
Year 1 students had a chance to discuss the ever-present issue of human trafficking, which the UNODC defines as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit. César started the discussion by presenting a few of the programmes he led and assisted in Colombia, Pakistan, and Mozambique. Utilising these programmes, he made links between concepts familiar to students — such as the different generations of human rights. The way that César had contextualised the severity of human trafficking provided students with insight into the lack of effective remedies for human rights violations and inspired them to think about how they could utilise the engagement activity as a means of taking action.
These programmes and his experiences helped students get to know each other better, and, ultimately, fostered a safe and connected learning environment. This segwayed nicely into the next element of his presentation, in which César shared shocking and imperative data regarding human trafficking. Our students learned that 46% of human trafficking victims are women, 20% are men, 19% are girls, and 15% are boys. Hugo made a powerful connection between why most detected victims are women. “Why are humans trafficked and what is the end goal for these traffickers?”. From this question, our students learned that forced labour and sexual exploitation are among the primary reasons. This specific segment of his speech connected with the specific idea of vulnerable groups and intersectionality as it helped our students to understand the underlying reasons behind oppression and the cause of human rights violations.
César spoke about how “victims are targeted when they are more vulnerable”, and engaged students in a discussion about the possible factors that could exacerbate this vulnerability. Parami suggested that this implies that most cases of human trafficking are premeditated, and victims are chosen because there is a good chance that they won’t fight back. Norman also raised the question of why significant global stakeholders, like governments, aren’t taking more action to spread awareness. This inquiry helped the class explore the importance of utilising educational institutions as forms of “awareness centres” to give meaningful preventative strategies and the role of the United Nations as an enforcer of human rights for vulnerable groups.
Both year 1 and year 2 GPSers are grateful to César for his insight and experiences.