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Zihuatanejo Teachers Get Chance To Save The World

"Work together to identify global problems and develop sustainable solutions"

Wibke Langhorst

"Work together to identify global problems and develop sustainable solutions". The objective was pretty straightforward - invite teachers, the media and representatives of government and society to become "global leaders" for a day and see what kind of solutions they come up with for the many pressing problems of their world - but making this happen in Zihuatanejo was no small feat.

A brainchild of the Movement for the Rescue and Preservation of the Bay of Zihuatanejo, S.O.S. Bahía, the event had been in the planning stages for the better part of a year. But only when the newly established FIDEPROBAZI, a bank trust created jointly by S.O.S. Bahía and the government, finally received authorization to allocate the public resources destined for the realization of environmental education projects could the Zihuatanejo World Game idea take on concrete form. In close coordination with the City Press Office and the Department of Education, invitations were sent out to the city's secondary school and technical college teachers. The Ixtapa Hotel Association chipped in to provide the venue for the event and room and board for the two instructors from Philadelphia. Four very dedicated members of S.O.S. Bahia sacrificed countless hours to translate hundreds of pages of material into Spanish.

So the organizers of Zihuatanejo's first "World Game workshop" breathed a sigh of relief when a total of 182 curious invitees showed up at the Hotel Barcelo in the early morning hours of January 18, kicked off their shoes and started exploring the giant world map spread out on the ballroom floor. The initial confusion about the unusual concept and form of this "conference" was soon forgotten when the participants were assigned to the global regions they were to represent in the workshop, armed with official U.N data about their region and props representing food, energy, money, technology and natural resources. Challenged to meet the needs of their region's population, improve their quality of life and deal with economic, environmental and political pressures, Zihuatanejo's teachers, journalists and politicians quickly started to trade, purchase, invest, interact and develop solutions.

Alice Bateman and James Tantum, the workshop facilitators from Philadelphia, were surprised by the great enthusiasm exhibited by Zihuatanejo's "global leaders." "I have never experienced such a high level of involvement and participation in any workshop I conducted before," said Alice Bateman, "everybody here is showing a lot of serious interest and concern." Emotions did indeed run high, so much that some participants started identifying with their assigned region and made rousing appeals for help to their neighbors. "We are begging Russia and the United States to lower their food prices," pleaded one teacher representing the Indian subcontinent, "Otherwise we Indians will never be able to solve our problems."

Asked to describe what the experience of the workshop had taught them, many participants expressed their conviction that "the problems facing the world today are of a global nature and can only be solved if everyone works together." "People become aware that they are integral to the development and realization of a positive future," said James Tantum, "and this realization can be directly translated to their own environment and surroundings."

The response to the World Game has been resounding and S.O.S. Bahia is currently considering repeating the workshop in a number of Zihuatanejo schools so that its message may reach the most important sector of the population and tomorrow's local and global problem-solvers - the students. "We would like to instill awareness and responsibility in our young people," said Abbdon Urbina, member of S.O.S. Bahia, "so that they may truly 'think globally and act locally.'

S.O.S. Bahia meets every Friday at 7 p.m. in the courtyard of "La Cantina del Pescador" at Juan N. Alvarez No. 117 and is happy to welcome anybody interested in the preservation of the Bay of Zihuatanejo.

For information concerning S.O.S. Bahia, please call Enrique Rodriguez Krebs at (755) 4 7227 or send an email to bahia_zihua@yahoo.com

For more information about World Game workshops, please check www.worldgame.org.

February 2001

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