Between Broken Chairs and Turkish Delight (a delayed report from the simulation)

A reflection from participants in the methods used during the first course of the project (Alexandria, 3rd of January 2013)


The day brought a disturbing simulation of democracy in the perspective of unequal distribution of economic wealth. As soon as coins gave a clinking sound on the training room floor we saw participants – some already starting with artificial disadvantages – crawling on the ground greedily grabbing as much as they could. This initial set up completed by honorable donations led to three groups distinct by their number of coins in hand. Shortly after the small group of rich were offered Turkish Delight and left the room to smugly  talking about the way towards a more fair society in spacious, comfortable leather armchairs. Meanwhile in the room the middle class and the poor discussed the same – the latter and largest group squeezed on broken chairs in a tight corner.

Soon after the committee gathered to discuss proposals. The representative of the rich arriving some 10 minutes late immediately jumped into explaining the scholarship and employment programme of the proposed AKAK Foundation, pointing out the long-term benefits education will bring for the poor communities. The Middle Class addressed all parties positioning itself as the mediator and communication channel between the rich and the poor. The representative of the poor – receiving only a single minute to present – heavily criticized both groups for their attitude and pushed for a micro-credit program.

The committee was almost about to vote when heavy protests started among the poor for equal votes. (Initially the rich easily outvoting all the committee with 5 votes each against a middle class with 2, the poor just half a vote per head). The ignored middle class witnessed an emotionally heated ping-pong match of rich and poor played between the two opposite sides of the room. Human rights seemed to fall in the face of economical interest when the rich decided for a controversial solution. An outcome confused poor and middle class with both receiving 1 vote per head, while the rich kept its majority and launched AKAK Foundation for development. Stepping out of roles participants shared an overall mix of upset, sad and frustrated emotions.

After stepping out of the roles we were able to work together again – rich and poor side by side…


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