Eileen Searle ’06, Ph.D.’15, played the role of a Malawian Ministry of Health official in the Harvard University Aid for Health simulation on April 6, 2012. Searle was one of 24 Boston-area graduate students representing government officials, U.N. agencies, and international non-governmental organizations in an event that simulated a multi-party aid package negotiation in Malawi.
Students from Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, and Tufts University broke into 12 two-member delegations for the simulation, now in its third year, which brings together students from across disciplines and universities, who want a deeper understanding of the complexities of international aid negotiations. Searle was chosen from more than four dozen applicants for the innovative learning experience. She was the only representative from Boston College, and the only participant with a nursing background.
In preparation, Searle attended a negotiation workshop with Lawrence Susskind, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and vice chair for instruction at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Searle said that the simulation was “a great learning experience, which highlighted the disadvantage that country governments have in negotiating aid packages [because] they are at the mercy of the donors.” She admitted that it was difficult to accept that in international negotiations, the best plans must be modified to suit the needs and demands of the interested parties, but that “the negotiation skills that [I and the other] participants learned and then used in the simulation were invaluable in the simulation and will be as I move forward in my career.”