in-between teaching sessions

Highlights from the first session of my International Law and Human Rights course:

- Being asked "so, did they kill children too?" when discussing the Rwandan genocide and realising that things I think of as being obvious aren't really.

- "Why didn't you do anything?" (again, when discussing Rwanda and Darfur--and realising that, during the Rwandan events, I was the age my students are now).

I didn't have an answer to this except the rather weak "I didn't even know what was going on", which led to a discussion about news sources, globalisation and living in a fairly remote part of the world. When I was 14-15, I was busy studying for my School Leaving Certificate (Grade 10), we didn't have cable/international television and my reading consisted (mostly) of old Agatha Christie mysteries, Charles Dickens and suchlike.

- Their surprised looks (and "oh, now I feel terrible--greedy, you see") after the Tragedy of the Commons exercise.*

- Being told by the TA's that four of my students now wanted to "learn more about international law" and maybe even "join the United Nations". Bit worrying, that.

- Having one of the students bring up female genital mutiliation (when talking of women's rights) and another ask what that entailed.

- Realising that my flunkie gig provided valuable experience in talking of American law school systems (and first year classes). There's probably some moral in that story about how all painful experiences are ultimately useful but I refuse to believe it.

- Going out to eat with the TA's and project managers (all Juniors or Seniors in undergrad with a couple of recent graduates) and falling back into "Professor" mode while talking about post-undergraduate options.**

The next sessions--law again and also global public health--start on 5 July. I'm sure I'll have more to say on those in upcoming days. Now, it's the first "over 75 degrees" day here in Berkeley so I'm off for a long walk--one which will, hopefully, avoid the (many wonderful) used bookstores. There's a hill behind the university that I want to climb up on.

* This actually went off rather well--no one waited for the second round (where they would have received more money for their fish) as they all grabbed their fish during the first round of fishing. As an exercise in how the Commons are destroyed, it went off perfectly and set up the stage for discussing options of managing such issues.

** I suppose it comes as no surprise to those who know me in that our discussions were mostly about travelling and working overseas.

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