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Diplomacy in Action

Chapter 6: Group Focus Session 1: Describing Transitions


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Group Size: Seminar group-8-12 students

Time Needed: 45 to 60 minutes

Physical Set up: Circle or at a conference table

Materials: Case study of Tara handout for everyone, flip chart, markers, computer program with graphics, student journals.

Procedure: Meet & Greet:
Using "sound ball strategy," have students in circle throw a word describing how they might feel when they learn that they need to move. Student catches the thrown emotion and then throws their own emotion to another class member.

Introduce the session by stating the goal:
To learn how to manage transitions.
Distribute the case study of Tara. Have students read it and then discuss their own stories of transition.

Have students brainstorm benefits of change and challenges of change. Record their responses on chart paper headed using two columns. Allow for discussion to focus on the question, "Do the benefits out weigh the challenges?"

Have students identify ten strategies that they have found to be effective when making a transition. Develop them into a pamphlet to help others with change.

Follow Up: Collect stories of transitions from peers. Consider publishing an article with stories of success.

Reflection: Journal entry: Describe your last move or major transition. Make special note of how you felt when you learned about the transition. Compare your reaction to those of Tara and Ethan.

Tara's story
A case study: "To move or not to move ..."

"What am I going to do? I don't want to move. I didn't think they were serious. Everything is perfect here."

Tara had just hung up the phone after a call from her parents who couldn't wait to share the news that they just accepted a job overseas. The family would be moving in August. Tara's father, Jim had lived overseas as a child and was thrilled that his children would have the opportunity to experience the same type of adventures as he had. Jim and his wife Lisa were sure the children would be as excited as they were. After all, they had explored the possibility with them previously.

But when Jim and Lisa shared the news with their children there was nothing but silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, Tara blurted out, "Dad, do we have to go? This is my freshman year in high school. I just can't leave my friends. She was sobbing now. "I will be on the junior varsity basketball team and on the newspaper as well. How can you do this to me? It is so unfair!!!" Tara, crying and too devastated to continue, handed the phone to her brother Ethan, whose curiosity was now piqued.

"Where are we going?" he asked? "Wow!! Africa." His fifth grade enthusiasm came across the phone wires loud and clear. Questions poured forth fast and furiously. "Where is Eritrea? What can we do there? Are there elephants? Do the kids play sports? What language do they speak there? What kind of school is it?"

"Shut up!" Ethan. Tara grabbed the phone. Then, after angrily declaring that she would not be going with them, she hung up the phone.

Jim and Lisa were distressed. They were surprised by Tara's reaction and had hoped the whole family would embrace the impending change. When the confused and concerned parents arrived home, Ethan had already looked up the country on the internet to learn all he could about it. Tara, on the other hand, had locked herself in her room and refused to speak. After about forty-five minutes, she appeared. Her eyes red from crying, she demanded an explanation. "How can you do this to me? How can you expect me to have any kind of a social life? I like it here! Who needs to have an adventure? We will be half a world away. I am not going!"

What the family would have to come to grips with now was the difference in perception, reaction and need for change. Change is inevitable and our willingness to embrace it varies from person to person.

Ethan clearly shared the excitement of his parents. But for Tara change was frightening.



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