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San Diego High School Students Confront Migration Crisis In Mock Exercise

High school students work together to defuse a diplomatic crisis during a sim...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: High school students work together to defuse a diplomatic crisis during a simulation run by the San Diego Diplomacy Council on Friday, September 20, 2019.

Students from high schools across San Diego tried last Friday to solve a mock diplomatic crisis centering on migration.

The simulation was put together by the San Diego Diplomacy Council and had students working together as posing countries involved in the migration crisis, to propose possible resolutions.

For many students taking part in the simulated exercise, the realities of international migration struck particularly close to home.

Kamila Trujillo, a freshman at San Diego High School, represented the fictional country of Malil during a diplomatic crisis.

Reported by Max Rivlin-Nadler , Video by Matthew Bowler

As with many students in San Diego, Trujillo is no stranger to the stresses that borders and migration can place on a family.

RELATED: San Diego’s Climate Crisis: Researcher Says Climate Change Is Driving Mass Migration

“My mom couldn’t go to her father’s funeral because she wasn’t legally documented,” Trujillo told KPBS. “And that hurt her a lot, so I wanted to help out.”

The simulation was moderated by Leslie Bassett, former U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay. It centered on a refugee crisis created when a religious minority was persecuted and displaced from the fictional country of Gilbia.

“This opportunity for the students is not just to sit on the sidelines, but look at actively engaging, to try to make positive change. And looking at the complexity, because it’s really an art," Bassett said. "It’s not something you will solve during a two-hour simulation.”

Ultimately, students came up with a variety of solutions to the crisis. Just as in the real world, none of the solutions offered a tidy resolution for migrants caught between borders.

Trujillo, who has co-founded a club centered on cross-border diplomacy, wants to put her newly-tested diplomatic skills to use in the real world, especially along the San Diego-Tijuana border.

“It’s not a simulation, it affects real people,” she said. “It affects people like me. And it affects many others. I just want to stop that. It’s why I keep on building bridges.”

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.


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Photo of Max Rivlin-Nadler

Max Rivlin-Nadler
Speak City Heights Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover City Heights, a neighborhood at the intersection of immigration, gentrification, and neighborhood-led health care initiatives. I'm interested in how this unique neighborhood deals with economic inequality during an unprecedented global health crisis.

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