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One of the main lessons of International Towne is interdependence. International Towne presents a world of sixteen countries divided into four fictitious regions; MidAfri, EuRussia, PacAsia and Amerilat. Each country has a unique purpose in the economy and students learn how their actions, individually and as a country, impact the overall economy. The day starts with a trade simulation in which each country imports and exports goods. This is each country’s largest income of the day and encourages students to think about international trade and globalization.
After lunch the Towne Director leads a “Dilemma Summit” in which a region of International Towne has been affected by an economic crisis. Teachers have discussed with the director beforehand which area will be affected. The citizens of that region have to come up with a sum of money and a solution to the crisis in order to reopen their region and continue to travel and trade.
Interdependence in International Towne and the world
The Dilemma Summit begins with discussing how the citizens of International Towne are dependent on countries in the four different regions. The students easily identify key countries in International Towne. All countries rely on Panama for the shipment of goods. Students rely on the citizens of Egypt to provide passport photos so their passport will be valid to travel the world. Countries and citizens rely on Singapore as the World Bank to provide banking and currency exchange services. Students begin to realize how their countries are mutually reliant on each other at International Towne.
The discussion progresses to the real world and we take a look at globalization. Students note how they are connected to other countries. Most students agree that they have toys in their home made in China. A student mentions that the US is dependent on foreign oil sources. Often they will bring up the Ebola virus and how it has been able to affect citizen of the US because of our connectedness. The conversation leads into scarcity and what can cause strain on a region of the world. The students touch on natural disasters, war, disease, energy shortages, and other global issues that decrease supply and increase demand.
At the end of this ten-minute discussion the Towne Director finally reveals which region of the world the economic crisis has hit. There may have been a drought in the MidAfri region or a tsunami in the PacAsia region. One recent dilemma closed Amerilat due to an energy shortage. Panama was not be able to ship the afternoon shipment of goods, Canada was not have any power to run the slushy machine, and Brazil couldn’t run its World Cup soccer game. The presidents from each country had to get together and come up with 600 Amerilat notes as well as a couple of real world solutions to the energy crisis. They accepted donations from concerned citizens or countries that were desperate for that region to reopen. They all worked together to find a solution and it was a fun simulation of a real world crisis to get the students actively thinking about world issues and interdependence.
Consider what region of the world you would like the dilemma to be in before coming to International Towne. Think about countries that have an important role in the afternoon and which regions closure will encourage the most widespread participation in the solution.