Cissa Wa Numbe is the Secretary General of the United Nations Association of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he teaches Peace Studies and Human Rights at four universities, two in the Congo (Catholic University of Bukavu and the University of Kinshasa) and also at the International University of Geneva and Bradford University in the United Kingdom.
Among the work he does is to consult with civil service organizations and government officials on how to promote peace and human rights according to international standards with a focus on conflicts and mass atrocities and violence prevention. In addition, he trains UN peace-keeping staff about how the United Nations works and mentors faculty in various countries about how to organize model United Nations events at universities. This is one busy guy!
Bringing Human Rights Knowledge to Life
Recently, Cissa left a convention in Tanzania, where he was sharing his analyses of how some types of speech can catalyze violence (to be better able to disrupt and prevent such violence) two days early in order to attend the March 2016 iiE Gathering at Florida Keys Community College. Why?
“I wanted to experience the highly interactive discussions and learn from the ideas that would be shared at the iiE Gathering. Specifically, there are several books I have written that I would like to turn into more engaging and interactive materials. One of the books is a child-friendly guide to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that is currently being used in secondary schools in the Congo and elsewhere.” It is crucial, Cissa says, for children in the Congo to understand their rights, because then they cannot take them for granted.
The Technology of Playing Cards
Cissa originally was thinking of a high-tech approach to the challenge of making the material more captivating and meaningful -- perhaps a mobile app would be the solution. However, after conversations with other Gathering participants, Cissa decided on a very low-tech solution: custom playing cards, inspired by cards used for Gathering unconferences. Half of the cards will be printed with items from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the other half with have concrete examples of those rights. Children can play a variety of different matching games with the cards, and through playing, learn about their own rights.
Cissa hasn’t given up on the idea of making an app, but the low cost of producing the cards means that they can be prototyped and tried out in the field quickly, and the iiE is able to cover the modest expenses. If the pilot goes well, Cissa hopes to create similar materials to better disseminate the ideas in a manual he has written that is aimed at helping women better understand their rights and fulfill their potential. He is also working on developing a game that could introduce the complexities of peacemaking and conflict resolution to middle and high school students.
Opportunities to Interact
“My experiences at the iiE Gathering keep me thinking about how important it is create opportunities for people to interact and share their work. Staying in one’s own corner will not let us change people’s lives,” he said. “If we don’t regularly interact with others, we end up doing things in a limited way. We need to make the world more global, share what we do, share our limitations and challenges, and keep on learning from one another.”