By Chloe Zimmerman
After a whirlwind two weeks of lectures, site visits and discussions considering various meanings of the term “solidarity” in Poland, the HIA Polska Fellows were faced with yet another challenge: translating our new knowledge into a simulation game that could be used for educational purposes.
Phase II of the program began on Thursday, June 17th, when we were joined by Senior Fellow Joanna Średnicka and her colleague Filip Tomaszewski of Pracownia Gier Szkoleniowych, a game design company based in Warsaw. With their guidance, we began to consider the potential of using games as a method of human rights education. Games can engage youth in thinking about difficult issues and dilemmas, encouraging them to consider history in fun and creative ways.
HIA Polska Fellows were broken into three teams, each group given the task of designing a unique game about solidarity over the course of eleven days. Nearly all of us new to this process, we faced many challenges in translating all that we had learned here in Warsaw into game form. The group game design process was full of brain-stretching, hurdles and compromise.
Finally the day has come and on 28th June, we presented our final products to the HIA Polska Fellows and staff and Mr. Tomaszewski. Furthermore, we were joined by Christa Meyer of The Foundation EVZ "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", who was generous enough to donate her time and partake in the game-playing of the day.
First to present were the creators of “Peace-ing it Together,” a game that used various tasks and puzzle-making to teach youth about the history of the Polish Solidarity movement and the realities of negotiation. Below is an excerpt of the puzzle-making negotiation process, played by a few HIA Fellows:
The second game presented was called “Forest Fire.” In this game, participants were faced with a fun exercise that encouraged them to consider minority and majority groups and the benefits of acting in solidarity. Below is an excerpt of the game in action, as played by HIA Fellows, Christa Meyer of Foundation EVZ, and Filip Tomaszewski:
Finally, the third group of Fellows presented a game called “Do it Yourself?” in which participants were presented with a series of scenarios that forced them to consider individual- and community-based decision-making, both related to historical examples and present-day situations. This game was selected to be published by Pracownia Gier Szkoleniowych.
The day’s presentations effectively brought our time in Warsaw to a close, and we now anticipate an enriching and rigorous conference in Amsterdam. As we look back on the past month, we can only begin to realize all that we have learned—about Poland, about minority and human rights issues, about a future of activism and about our own abilities. But I, for one, am already certain of the most unforgettable part of the program: a month-long exploration shared with an international group of some of the most inspiring, passionate and wonderful people I have ever met, and a look forward into continued friendships and collaborations as we return to the world outside HIA Polska. I thank you all for an incredible month, and I can’t wait to see what you do next!