Even though the Model G-20 Summit had come and gone a little over a month ago, the reverberations of the mock diplomatic negotiations were still a little raw for several of the students who participated in the worldwide conference held at the Hynes Convention Center in February.
Enter Revere High student Shiara Pyrrhus, who was on the Rwandan diplomatic team, and Adam Fazazi, who represented Nigeria. While both worked within the African Union on a larger diplomatic team, Pyrrhus and Fazazi had an entirely different view of the outcome of their negotiations – several weeks later during an interview with the Journal.
“I did a lot of trades,” said Fazazi. “I worked a lot with Argentina and South America. We didn’t end up working with the African union much because it wasn’t in our best interest to cooperate because we needed the same thing.”
Across the table at Revere High, the emotions were still raw for Pyrrhus.
“Exactly!” she exclaimed. “That’s the reason why we have a union and why you should have worked within the union…It was unnecessary and rude and not diplomatic!”
But Fazazi and his other diplomats representing Nigeria saw it differently.
“We needed a quick solution and something short-term and not long-term,” he said, defending his actions. “I had to get the best deal in five days. We had to do what we had to do.”
The raw emotions were just an example of how inspired students were during, and even after, the G-20 Mock Summit last month – which brought together students from all over the world to participate in a diplomatic exercise that was to be as close to the real thing as possible.
In all, 15 students from Revere High were able to attend, the only Massachusetts school able to send a full contingent, due to a grant won by a teacher at RHS.
Students traveled from China, Peru, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world to Boston to participate.
Following two days at Harvard for some prep work, the Revere contingent joined the rest of the students to begin working on worldwide problems using diplomacy and negotiation.
Each student was assigned to a ministry (a subject matter such as education or agriculture or labor) and to a country. For example, Pyrrhus represented Rwanda and Fazazi represented Nigeria. Students from Revere were placed at random with students from other parts of the world – and they were expected to overcome language and cultural barriers on the fly in order to begin working to solve the problems put before them.
“In some instances there is a language barrier, but at the end of the day we have the same things in common,” said Somaya Laroussi.
Seba Ismail said they were used to diversity being from Revere High, but this was something new.
“Because we’re from Revere High, we’re used to diversity of cultures,” she said. “This was an entirely new sort of diversity though. You have kids from other countries with entirely different cultures. I’m never had that experience before.”
Fazazi said he got to spend a lot of time with some of the kids from China, which was an eye-opening experience for him.
“Speaking to the kids from China was really different for me – talking about how much they study and how long they go to school,” he said. “Their typical school day continues at night from 6:30 to 9 p.m. They are at school all day and then come home to study and go back to school. I got into some really deep conversations with them about what they thought of their government.”
Pyrrhus said one thing they found was the Chinese students picked an American name that was different than their Chinese names.
“That was weird because on the one hand they had their real name, but they said to just use the American name they picked,” she said. “I didn’t feel right about that and I learned how to say their name in Chinese because the English name they had wasn’t their real name. I tried my best to get the name right because many people give up and that’s why they have this English name…It was about authenticity for me.”
In the end, the students agreed they learned a lot about diplomacy, and said they had one of the great experiences of their high school careers.