Changing the world
Students tackle global problems

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Oct 13/99) - Students in three Kivalliq hamlets were given the opportunity to solve many of the world's problems this past week.

A travelling education-styled production, the Global Change Game, made stops in Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Baker Lake.

The production is run by a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg which travels across Canada each school year doing performances in schools, universities, church groups, community groups and businesses.

The organization's executive director, Robert Altemeyer, says the group began as volunteer university students and community members at the University of Manitoba in 1991.

"Our first performance was in February, '92. We thought we'd do it a couple of times and then it would be available locally if any one else wanted to come in and take it over," says Altemeyer.

"The game received such an incredible response it took on a life of its own."

Altemeyer says this is the first time the group has toured Nunavut and the response has been very encouraging.

Game participants learn about major issues in the world and come up with their own ideas on how to tackle those issues.

"They learn what's happening in the world and experience how things would change if they were calling the shots and that's pretty neat."

The group uses a huge map of the world and gives participants as much of the complexity of the real world it can.

Then, students pretend they can travel in time and, over the course of the three-hour workshop, they make all the decisions and determine the next 20 or 30 years of the Earth's history.

At the end of the workshop they compare how the world turned out, compared to what they started with.

"We then help them draw conclusions or learn from everyone else's experiences on how everything is interconnected and what each of us can do in our local communities or even working internationally to make a difference," says Altemeyer.

Participants also learn area populations, economic engines, how many are living in poverty, who they are and why they're living in poverty and how it can be fixed.

"We also address environmental concerns, soil erosion, deforestation, soil and water pollution.

"Kivalliq students solved a lot of these major problems and have a lot to be proud of."

Alaittuq high school principal Donald Clarke said the program was a big benefit to his students.

He said the game group also gave presentations to grades 9 and 10 and were able to use their knowledge and expertise to get the whole school involved.

"The students said they really enjoyed participating in the game and it gave them a much better idea of how difficult it is to manage this great planet we live on," says Clark.

"It's important the funding is available for Northern students to have the chance to participate in the same types of learning programs as southern schools.

"That's the only way they're going to experience these things."