By Skye Savage
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 00:05
Nearly 30 graduate students from psychology and the international humanitarian relief programs participated in a nine-hour simulation of a humanitarian disaster in closed-off areas of campus Sunday.
The simulation involved 22 graduate psychology students in the International Disaster
Psychology Program and seven graduate students from the Humanitarian Certificate Program
at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and was intended to help students
learn how to handle themselves as aide workers in times of disaster.
The event was the largest humanitarian crisis simulation to be held on campus. It was held at the Ammi Hyde building and at Ben Cherrington Hall. Participating students were divided into teams of humanitarian aid workers sent to help refugees affected by a confllict in Africa. Undergraduate students from Korbel played the parts of the refugees.
Participants were assigned teams on Friday. On Saturday, they met to discuss strategies for aiding the refugees by identifying and assessing their needs.
Team members had to convince a panel of donors to fund their proposed plan of humanitarian relief.
According to Courtney Mitchell, a psychology professor, the simulation evaluates the students’ ability to utilize specific tools to conduct a needs assessment and design a project addressing protection, gender-based violence and psychosocial and mental health concerns.
“[Students must] communicate effectively, function effectively as a member of a team, manage stress, tolerate ambiguity and manage time constraints,” said Mitchell. “These are the types of skills they will need to be effective in international humanitarian disasters.”
According to Mitchell, disaster situations are becoming increasingly common.
She said it is important for graduate students training to deal with these situations to have an idea of what to expect.