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On Saturday, November 6, we had session No. 9 of the Global Agenda Seminar series.  This series started in January and the session No. 9 is the second to last one, as we end the series  on December 4. For this session, we invited Ms. Yuki Moriya, Public Information Office of UNHCR.

Ms. Moriya gave presentation on the definition of refugees, the activities and challenged for UNHCR.  She was kind enough to invite Mr. Thang, chairperson of the Refugee Coordination Committee Japan and other refugees, so that the participants could hear from those who are refugees themselves and have done various activities for refugees.

Japan is the first Asian country to adopt the resettlement pilot project, in line with human-security principles.  Under this program, 90 Burmese refugees will be resettled in Japan.    The participants of the GAS were given the assignment to think about 1) the specific action steps to help the resettlement program and 2) the way to promote the collaboration among the relevant organizations, by taking one of the following roles: a) Japanese government, b)local government of the community where refugees resettle c) NGO supporting refugees d)Public information unit of UNHCR d) private sector company collaboration with UNHCR.

After the presentation by Ms. Moriya and by Mr. Thang with Q & A session, participants discussed in groups they were assigned.  In the latter half of the session, we tried simulating the panel discussion typical at conferences such as Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum.

I played the role of a moderator and started the panel,as if it were done at Davos in January 2011.  Five panelists representing the five organizations above made short initial remarks, followed by some discussion.  Then I opened the session for questions and comments from the floor.

It was the first time we tried role play in the form of the panel for GAS. The reason I wanted to try was to have participants get the direct experience of what it is like to be a panelist at the conference, by playing the role.

After the role play, we had more Q & A sessions with Ms. Moriya and Mr. Thang and others where participants had more questions.  Judging from the result of the survey among the participants, they seemed to appreciate the experience of meeting with refugees face to face and hear their views.  As to the role play panel, they found it interesting.  We could have made the panel better by informing what each panelist is expected to do (sometimes in real life, they do not get this information until they actually speak!) etc.  I always feel that there is value in trying something new, no matter how many mistakes you make. If you are afraid of making mistakes or trying to do it perfect from the first time, it will be extremely difficult to try something new.

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