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Waipahu PAAC students help avert nuclear crisis

At the recent Global Vision Summit, 14 of our Waipahu PAAC club students stepped into the world of high-stakes diplomacy. They joined nearly 200 students from across the state to role-play as diplomats, journalists, activists, and peacebuilders trying to reach a peaceful solution to a nuclear diplomacy crisis.

Students negotiated for their fictional countries, working around their different national interests and histories of economic and political tension. Other students staged protests, while others worked as journalists covering the breaking news. Through rounds of formal and informal negotiations, the players were — thankfully — able to overcome tensions and misinformation and agree on a last-minute compromise.

The simulation was based on actual nuclear diplomacy negotiations between the United States, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and China. During the conference, which was hosted at UH-Mānoa, students worked directly with real-life experts including foreign service diplomats, U.S. ambassadors, and faculty from the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

For those of you who are wondering, PAAC stands for Pacific & Asian Affairs Council. Please scroll on to hear more about the GVS conference through our students’ eyes.

“The best thing about GVS is getting to really put ourselves into our roles. I was in a media role, and it was interesting to put myself into a reporter’s shoes and get a sense of how they would think during a breaking news story or interviews. We had to make print and video breaking news stories and present them to the room. My favorite part was getting to interview protestors and quickly write something to share their voice. It filled me with adrenaline!” ~ Jade
“My favorite part about GVS was getting to meet different students with similar interests. Collaborating with my group in particular was incredibly fun. I was in a media group and we all agreed it was definitely not easy being a little invasive when we had to go on asking so many questions.”  ~ Hayden
“It was really cool to see the way everyone embraced their roles, and how passionate we all became about the topic. I never really saw myself as someone who was interested in diplomacy or politics, and definitely not nuclear diplomacy, but attending GVS changed my perspective. I am now considering getting more involved/looking into diplomacy, and possibly journalism. The simulation was very realistic, and at times frustrating, as I imagine real life would be. There were several factors that had to be taken into account, such as other countries’ interests, and even hidden agendas. Even though it was challenging, it was still a very rewarding experience and one that will stick with me. I would encourage everyone to go to GVS, even if it doesn’t sound like something that would normally interest you, because if nothing else, you will certainly be entertained!” ~ Katy
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“Working with other countries and trying to balance the interests of all groups is challenging, and I have a lot of respect for diplomats now that I know what it’s like. I love getting to meet and work with fellow PAAC students from around the state and feel a sense of belonging with the broader PAAC community. It inspires me to see how many students are passionate about global affairs, and it makes me think that we’ll be able to make a lot of progress. ~ Sophia

“The best thing about PAAC (in my opinion) are the connections that you can make. At events such as GVS or WorldQuest, I was able to meet new people from all over the island and state. Even at regular meetings, I can connect with my classmates whom I never talk to. Being in PAAC is one of the best things about my high school experience.” ~ Owen

“Watching the situation escalate was pretty entertaining.” ~ Zav

“I learned how hard it is to debate and communicate with others who have completely different goals.” ~ Teru

“What surprised me the most was how friendly everyone was and how much everyone collaborated. The best part of the GVS was learning negotiation skills and being able to meet new people, some of whom I will be staying in touch with.” ~ Xyandri

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Mrs. Francis has been supporting HTA Waipahu’s PAAC club since fall 2017. She started with just four members; the club has continued to grow in size to today’s 30!

PAAC empowers Hawaiʻi teens with the skills to be the global leaders of tomorrow. PAAC’s award-winning High School Global Education Program uses non-traditional, experiential learning to engage and excite students about global issues. PAAC strives to develop student leadership, empathy, critical thinking, and cross-cultural collaboration skills. Since 1954, PAAC has served more than 100,000 Hawaiʻi high school students.