The Crisis in Darfur: A Mini-Lesson

(Repost from 08/21/2007)

I challenge you to complete this mini-lesson and consider the questions below.


Watch the video below about the crisis in Darfur. (A free download of this video is avaiable here.)

Play Darfur Is Dying, a quick mini-game that simulates aspects of daily living in this region.

Darfur Is Dying


  1. What is your reaction to this information and simulated experience?
  2. What, if anything, did you learn from this lesson?
  3. How might this activity be integrated with teaching and learning

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

20 thoughts on “The Crisis in Darfur: A Mini-Lesson”

  1. What is your reaction to this information and simulated experience?
    My reaction is sad. This is horrible and no one should have to live like this. The lady living under a tree is the saddest. I would show this to high school students, maybe in a history, or government class. I would not show this to anyone under the age of fourteen.

    What, if anything, did you learn from this lesson?
    I learned that we are blessed. We complain about the silliest things but I am sure not many people live like this on a day to day basis.
    This is sad that the president has called for help and not many responses have been met. Students can learn that there is a world outside of the U.S.

    How might this activity be integrated with teaching and learning?
    This would be a great clip to show in a high school social studies class. I think the children would like to watch this clip, especailly in a class that students may not find interesting. I would have the students write and present a summary on the clip.

  2. Regarding the content of the video, it’s important to teach that this case study is but one case study of the extreme suffering that is happening all over the world. Even the fact that the Darfur case is an a government-driven genocide does not make it unusual. This video does not delve deeply into the American government’s, IMF’s, and World Bank’s responsibility for crises like the one in Darfur. It does not teach about the underlying economic-institutional causes of such crises.
    However, I suppose the point we’re focusing on now is using technology to show students videos of current events around the world. This is purely positive. Of course teachers must consider the age, maturity, and emotional strength of their students when showing footage like this. It will never be pleasant to watch and shouldn’t be. What the teacher does with this valuable tool is the key to its value in the classroom.
    Regarding the game for students, I find the concept appealing. Oregon Trail with more heartstrings attached. Either the game needs some interface work, or I need some practice.

  3. This video is one that I also wouldnt recommend showing to young children. I would show it to maybe high school or college students. My reaction was horrible because I couldnt imagine going through what some of these families faced such as not seeing or knowing where my husband is or if he is even alive. Women and children being treated the way they were, being shot and having wounds such as the ones they did. Povety and mal nutrition are known but know one knows how it feels unless you’ve been there. A lesson given in class could basically be that the students gives the differences between the US and other countries examples given, religion, health, entertainment, family relationships, food, houses, schools and etc.

  4. I watched the video first and have mixed feeling about the simulation. I think if one is old enough to view the actual video, then the simulation is unnecessary. On the other hand, it is an additional tool and may benefit some students.

    The lesson? Frankly, I found the simulation a tad callous and too simplistic to express the true, horrifying situation. I would be caution in placing this in a classroom.

    Carefully! I probably would not use it; a video “game” of Darfur just does not sit with me (I really talked myself into that).

  5. This crisis is a very sad situation. The fact that someone is being killed or raped because of where they are from or the color of their skin is heartbreaking. With a history lesson you could parallel the history of slavery in the U.S. during the 1800s and the genocide Hitler and the Nazis perpetrated in WWII. Students could also keep a journal of gratitude/thankfulness. Seeing what we take for granted everyday like clean water, food, shelter, and clothing is a good way to teach students of any age, respect. This is a good lesson about diversity that any race child must learn if we are to live in peace in this global economy.

  6. What is your reaction to this information and simulated experience?
    I have followed this crisis for many years and found the simulated experience very stressful. I can only imagine the terror that they feel.

    What, if anything, did you learn from this lesson? I learned that they are strong and smart. I continued to get lost and wondered how one must have to have tremendous self control to keep themselves safe, collect and deliver water, etc and find their way back to the camp.

    How might this activity be integrated with teaching and learning? I think activities like this can replace the old role plays I did in high school where the teacher divided the class into the North and the South for a civil war re-enactment. That teacher ran into some problems because he divided the room in an odd way. This type of lesson eliminates those kinds of issues.

  7. This would be useful to show older students. Situations like this really can not just be explained. To grasp exactly how bad this really is, I think that everyone needs to see what is happening. However, this is not suitable for younger children. I also do not like the game. It makes the situation unreal, like a video game or television show.

  8. After watching this video, I see that the use of technology in the classroom must be monitored. To see what’s going on in Darfur is heartfelt. It is actually my first time seeing this. Because it is such a sensitive subject, I believe that the audience has to be picked carefully. I agree with Amy. Older students may be more receptive to seeing this video. I don’t believe that it is appropriate for elememtary students. As far as the game that was created, I don’t feel that the crisis in Darfur is a game. The events occuring in Darfur should be presented with sensitivity and consideration of the people there. I personally don’t like the game at all.

  9. The video was just heart-breaking. It’s just horrible to think that as I’m sitting in my air conditioned home complaining about the economy, people in a distant country are getting shot at for no valid reason. The game was enlightening. It’s a great tool to help students realize what other kids their age might have to go through in different cultures.

  10. I am aware of such suffering in Africa and other places, but anytime I watch such a video is it disturbing. Due to this feeling, I am not sure if this particular video would be appropriate for most students until possibly 11th or 12th grade or maybe not until college. I would not want my elementary child watching such a video yet. I think they need to know about different cultures, segregation, war, and so on, but this is too much – in my opinion. At the right age, this video could be included in regards to learning about different types of war,cultural differences,and segregation.

  11. This was difficult for me to watch. My heart goes out to the people of Darfur. Showing an excerpt from this video to a class would be much stronger than having a discussion of the conditions. Students will be able to see first-hand the conditions of children in other countries. The class can learn about geography, economics, and government.

  12. This was a touching video that shows us a very sad situation. The game brings the situation more to life by showing a glimpse of how difficult it is to survive. This was a very effective use of technology to inform individuals of a very horrible situation and to make them understand it a little more than they would have if simply given a lecture or article to read.

  13. You never really understand something until you wear the shoe yourself. Though others have stated it the video was horrible to watch! Innocent children being attacked and raped is awful and when you look at them they are so cute and innocent. This has help me to actually think concisously that there are people worse off than I am. Intergrating technology into the classrom can be just enough as watching the very powerful video.You could incorporate geography such as whats going on in the country and where is it,or with younger children different types of places people call homes.

  14. Watching the video made me feel extremely sad and playing the game helped me put myself in their shoes. Using the video and game to teach students would be so much more meaningful than a boring lecture. It would give them a visual and I believe it would encourage them to use higher level thinking skills.

  15. We worked with a family from Sudan and hearing their stories first hand and getting to know them changed my life. They educated all of us on what is really happening in Sudan. This also reminded me of a great hands on experience that I worked with this Spring called “The AIDS Experience” by WorldVision. You walk through an African village as a child and enter a their home African home. Then you go to the clinic and find out if you have AIDS or not. All the time you are listening to the true story of the child you are. When I first went through I walked through the life of a 10 year old girl with AIDS. It was an amazing experience.

  16. This video was very sad. There is so much going on in the world that we are unaware of it is unbelievable. This video was very intense, but watching it rather than hearing about it makes you understand it better and understand the severity. I think allowing students to watch this video when teaching would be a lot more beneficial than talking to them about it. The game that went along with the video is also very helpful. This could easily be incorporated into a lesson plan and could really help the children learn about other places in the world while trying to help the people out by getting water in the game.

  17. I agree with Katie. This video was very hard to watch. It is hard to know that things like this happen in our world. I think that even though it is hard to actually see for yourself what it is happening, it has a more profound effect on a person than just reading it in a textbook. When you are able to see something like this video it allows you to get a more in-depth understanding of what is actually happening. I think that watching this video or videos like this is very helpful in teaching. You can teach a child out of a book all day but allowing them to have a visual to put with the lesson actually helps them understand it and remember it better.

  18. This video was extremely difficult to watch. A student would not be able to comprehend what is going on in Darfur and Chad by “talking about it” like they would if they were able to actually see it. To see the conditions of where the people are living and watching the children run around with no shoes makes the reality of it all more real. To be able to watch this video in a classroom setting breaks up the monotony of a lecture. Students are able to hear other opinions and listen to actual voices of people in other countries. Not only is it important for students to know what is going on in the world, but it also allows them to see how lucky we are to live in a country that is free. It was almost unbearable to listen to the stories of the children and the women…some not even able to eat because of the trauma that they have had to see and live. No lecture on this topic would be able to touch me more than watching this video.
    Katie Penland

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