Monday, December 22, 2014

The one minute paper

On day three of our weeklong face-to-face sessions, we were first asked to take stock of the knowledge we had gained thus far and to consider any remaining queries that we had which had not yet been addressed in the lectures.  We were given one minute to write the paper, which was then sent in to the course coordinator Dr. Jo Dunham.  Here is how I answered the two questions:

What is the most useful, meaningful or interesting thing you have learned?

The most interesting thing that I have learned in this class so far is about all of the different laws that govern humanitarian workers abroad.  I knew that the domestic laws had to be followed but I had never thought about the international statutes that need to be adhered to and what those are.  I also found it very interesting to learn about all of the different disasters that have taken place, including many that I had never heard much about (for example, the Solomon Island floods). 

What questions do I still have?

I am still wondering about the best framework for making decisions in disasters.  What are the most important things to take care of first?  Who should we save first (i.e. children versus adults, healthy versus sick, etc)?  How do we go about making those decisions and rationalising our decisions with the public in a way that does not cause anger and distrust?

Eryn Wright

I quite enjoyed the activity and was particularly grateful for the opportunity to reflect on what I had learned and to verbalise the questions that still plagued me halfway through the week.  However, the time limit in class forced me to cut my paper short (well, for me anyway), so I thought I could go a bit more into detail here and include some thoughts that I had to leave by the wayside earlier.

One of the most useful things that I have learned about so far but did not have the chance to include in my original paper was the existence of the Sphere Handbook.   It has been very interesting to peruse the humanitarian charter and minimum standards to learn more about the nuts and bolts of responding to a disaster situation.  However, I have to say that despite having access to the Sphere Handbook, I am still a bit bewildered in regards to what rules or guidelines we should follow to make the best decisions when faced with difficult situations on the ground.  That being said, another one of the more meaningful things that I learned during our first in-class session was that above all else, it is imperative that you do make a decision, otherwise nothing will get done, the situation will not change and no one will be helped.

Hopefully as I continue throughout the course, the questions that I have will be answered and the topics that I find a bit confusing will become more clear to me.


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