Happy New Year!

We walked out onto the field today to find a wild commotion, and our very polite participant from Angola, Isaac, walking around saying, “please, I am a chicken.” He was looking for other chickens with whom to play a game of rock, paper, scissors with, so he could evolve up the food chain. A light respite in an otherwise rather intense day.

Today we covered the basics of development—various definitions and theories of development, and the basic institutions that make it possible. The morning’s session covered several historical topics, from colonialism and its aftermaths, to the Washington Consensus, while the afternoon dealt with ethics and the legal institutions that make development possible.

During perhaps the most popular session of the day the group tested their personal ethics. Is it ethical to ask your parents to help you get into Harvard? What about cheating customs duty on a few iPhones for your friends? Or taking an old friend out to dinner in order to score a business contract? Is it fair to put profits above human rights? There was a broad range of opinions on each matter, and participants listened patiently to each other. Some even changed their minds.

In the final session of the evening, one of our participants, a refugee from Rwanda, told the group his heart-breaking story of having to flee across six countries until he finally found a stable refugee camp in Swaziland. It was an eye-opening look at what refugees endure, the indignities they suffer, and the cruelty human beings are capable of inflicting on each other.

The day ended with a delicious barbeque dinner, and our New Year’s Eve party in full swing. Alternating between African and American pop music, everyone got dance to something a little new. It’s off to bed for all of us now. Happy New Year, everyone!