Bellevue High School's West Gym was converted into a global trading post when economic advisers representing 60 countries met for the second...
Bellevue High School’s West Gym was converted into a global trading post when economic advisers representing 60 countries met for the second annual International Economic Summit.
OK, the “advisers” were really 240 Bellevue High seniors, the summit included a quiz on international flags and a break for snacks, and the only things traded were paper coupons.
But that didn’t prevent hard-nosed negotiations between “countries” as they vied to export their goods and import high-demand items.
“I’ve learned that trade makes the world go round,” said Kim Vogels, 16, who represented Nigeria. “Without trade, countries wouldn’t be able to increase their standard of living. It would all be stagnant.”
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The goal of the role-playing event is to allow students to understand how countries have to work with each other to obtain goods and services they need. It allows students to see how trade influences how countries develop and impacts their citizens’ quality of life, said Don Myers, who teaches contemporary world issues and helped coordinate the event.
The program takes a topic that often is considered boring and brings it to life, said Amber Graeber, who also teaches contemporary world issues and helped coordinate the event.
“No one wants to learn about economics and trade,” she said. “The subject matter is so contemporary. This is something that will make them think.”
Thursday’s event was somewhat like Monopoly, but on a world scale. The countries each received a packet of coupons representing goods and services they had to trade with other countries, along with play money they could spend to purchase goods.
The objective was to trade coupons for things a country needed. If a country had enough money, it could go to the bank to purchase education, infrastructure or health care, or it could take out a loan.
Countries won points for meeting their trading goals and also for how well teams of students did on the quizzes and trade-issue statements they had to submit.
The program is being promoted by the Washington Council on International Trade, and the hope is that more high schools will be playing the economic summit trade game.
“Students want to learn how to change the world, but to do that they need to learn how the world works,” said Bill Center, the council’s president. He hopes to help organize an economic-summit competition among several high schools in the spring.
The summit’s trading session was reminiscent of the New York Stock Exchange, but with teenagers dressed in traditional garb from various countries.
Wearing a bright soccer jersey, face paint and a headband, Ben Fisher represented Brazil and worked a deal to trade food and raw materials with Bangladesh.
And Bangladesh was simultaneously working to swap unprocessed food for Germany’s consumer goods.
Meanwhile, kaffiyeh-wearing David Muresan, 17, representing Afghanistan, was searching for energy supplies, such as oil, and more military hardware.
“We’re trying to find our allies,” Muresan said. “We were trying to talk to Costa Rica, but so far no luck.”
And Kuwait, which had more oil coupons than any other country, completed its trading with plenty of time to spare.
“Because we have the most energy coupons, we were able to get what we wanted really easily,” said Ashley O’Mara, 18.
Peru won the summit, followed by Costa Rica and Japan.
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org