Lorrie Culver is in her 14th year as a faculty member at La Jolla Country Day School – and in her 2nd year as an instructor for San Diego Diplomacy Council’s Global Leadership Youth Program. We asked Lorrie to share her thoughts on what it means to bring citizen diplomacy to high school students, and why she keeps coming back for more.
I had the opportunity to work with the San Diego Diplomacy Council to instruct classes for San Diego area high school students the past two summers as part of their Global Leadership Youth Program and I would encourage others interested in world affairs to do the same. In these week-long classes, I learned, along with the students, how diplomacy is involved in just about every global challenge. Using created simulations, the students used negotiating skills to solve issues from pandemics to counterfeiting goods to animal trafficking and genocides. They learned to navigate the worlds of stakeholders, including non-governmental agencies, the U.S. State department, the United Nations and the governments of neighboring countries (real or imagined).
Each week students would try to solve the simulations using their newly-learned negotiating skills. The students and I were ably assisted by San Diego Diplomacy Council’s interns, who would gently steer students toward realistic solutions (the interns were usually political science majors at local universities). The high school students also participated in group projects (learning about specific animals that are heavily trafficked, for example) and were taught about the diplomacy process from highly-engaging guest speakers, such as former ambassadors and other high-level career diplomats. I learned so much, not just from the speakers (who were definitely highlights of the program) but also from the students, who were engaged and knowledgeable about current issues. My work in this program has encouraged me that today’s students are learning the necessary skills to live in a globalized world.