Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hearing for Genocide Education Bill

Exciting news!

The hearing at the state capitol for the Genocide Education bill is this Friday, Feb. 29 at noon. It is extremely important that anyone who is in favor of mandating genocide education in Connecticut secondary schools attends this hearing. Currently the Connecticut legislators sponsoring this bill are advocating for a bill that only recommends genocide education be provided rather than mandating it.

This is a great opportunity and it requires very little effort! We could also film it and include the footage in our own documentary.

The CT: TAG field organizer's email Nell Okie ( or me ( for more information. Let's get a bunch of Wes students on board!

CT Teach Against Genocide link on mandating genocide education

Saturday, February 23, 2008

ENOUGH monthly activist call

Hey hey,

ENOUGH, STAND, GI-Net and Save Darfur's monthly activist call is going to be held on Feb 28th at 7:00 pm. Summary of people who are going to be speaking as part of the call:

Omer Ismail, will join the call to talk about the latest turmoil and the political situation in Chad.

Save Darfur Coalition Media Relations Director Allyn Brooks-LaSure will discuss recent Save Darfur Coalition-sponsored journalist trips to Chad.

STAND and GI-Net recently launched The Executive Legacy. Scott Warren will outline the four-part policy framework President Bush must follow in order to end the genocide and help bring peace to Sudan.

Coby Rudolph, National Outreach Coordinator at the Save Darfur Coalition will give an update on upcoming grassroots campaigns.

If you'd like to sign up, here is the link.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Media Links

There is some great film footage out there. Most of it can't be downloaded and burned, but if anyone can figure it out or has sweet connections please help us out!

Check these sites out when you have time and think of ways to expose the high school students to them (keep in mind the classrooms aren't outfitted with computers/projectors):

Drumbeat for Darfur
What I Stand for: Civilian Protection in Darfur
The Devil Came on Horseback (2007)- Refugee interview clip
Darfur by Darfurians

I also just ordered The Devil Came on Horseback. We can show some clips in the classrooms and hold a screening on campus. We are looking for audio or visual media that includes first hand accounts or testimonies given by Darfurians, aid workers, journalists, etc. for our classroom visits. Please post anything you deem relevant!!

Curriculum Meeting Updates 2/20 & 2/22

Cait, Sondi, Alex, and I met on Wednesday and created a basic outline for our next classroom visit on Friday, Feb. 29. It shall unfold as follows:
  • Screen Refugees International's On Our Watch: A Documentary about Genocide in Darfur (11 minutes) or Save Darfur's Voices from Darfur (14 min- I just received it in the mail, pretty graphic but probably the best film out of our choices)
  • Divide class up into 4 or 5 small groups and assign each group a different genocide definition to discuss. We will provide them with a series of questions such as: What words stand out to you? What is missing from the definition? Is the definition too inclusive? etc.
  • Divide the class into two teams and hold a debate about an ambiguous genocide. One team will have to site reasons why it is a genocide and one team will have to argue why it is not.
  • Make a genocide web/cluster map as a class or in small groups.
  • Announce our blog's website and ask them to post on it as part of homework assignments.

Today, Alex, Cait, Sondi, Emily, Gitsy, and I met to discuss the next lesson plan for Mrs. Bailey's class, which will focus on the causes of the genocide in Darfur. Alex had extracted common causes from three case studies: Chechnya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe.

  • Weak political society with rigidly entrenched identities
  • regime declining in power (nationalist rhetoric)
  • competition for scarce resources
  • exogenous factors (Cold War, colonial powers)
  • disillusionment of civil society
  • post-conflict instability

The fact sheets for Cambodia , Darfur (Kaitlyn), Armenia (Gitsy), and Bangladesh (Emily) will be turned in by Sunday to Sondi who will assemble them into a packet to be distributed to the classes we work with (maps will be included with each piece). As for the lesson plan on causes, the most recent plan is to present the causes leading up to the genocide in Darfur and then assign each student a cause. The student's homework assignment will be to think of a specific intervention tactic that would have offered an alternative to the violence and destruction that ensued.

The next curriculum meeting will be: Sunday, Feb. 24 @ 6pm in the CSS Lounge (4th floor PAC)--anyone interested is welcome!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greater Middletown CROP Hunger Walk

Hey everyone,
I got an email yesterday from the Program and Events Coordinator at the Admission's office about the Greater Middletown CROP Hunger Walk that is scheduled for April 27th at 1:30 pm on the South Green in Middletown. Neighbors will be walking together to take a stand against hunger in different parts of the world. The objective is to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian assistance. The walk will be supporting 11 community centers in IDP camps in Darfur. You can find more information on the group organizing it here -

Stephanie said that it would be wonderful if members of STAND could take part. She has more information for us and collection envelopes if people are interested.

It sounds like a really good way to build awareness about Darfur in Middletown and meet with people who we might be able to collaborate with in the future. So it is just something to think about till next Monday and if you are interested, feel free to leave a quick comment saying that you are and I will touch base with Stephanie and get more detailed info to bring to next week's meeting. Thanks!


Friday, February 15, 2008

First Class Meeting

Gitsy, Josh, Cait, and I went to Middletown High School today. We met with a class composed of juniors and seniors. The class is an elective entitled Social Problems and they have been discussing human rights issues, culture, and other topics. We all introduced ourselves and gave a short history of WESTAND and the associated student movement. We then asked the students to tell us their names and a sentence or two about Darfur, genocide, or any human rights issue. If they could not think of anything or did not know anything about these subjects they could say pass. The majority of the class said pass, but a few students did speak up. From this exercise it was clear that they do not know much about the current situation in Darfur and have trouble articulating their knowledge of other genocides such as Rwanda. Josh gave a great impromptu overview on the Armenian genocide, Cambodia, and Darfur. Gitsy and Cait kept us on track and fielded questions from the students. We also discussed our Genocide Education Campaign with them. The teacher was extremely supportive and told us we could teach all her classes!

Afterwards, we met with another interested MHS teacher who has connections at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. He was very excited about our project. When we expressed concerns about the logistical aspects of this campaign (bringing the MHS students to individual WW classes) he said that he definitely supports that idea and he will work on our behalf to make it possible!!

On another note, Gitsy will be posting a news update, but in the meantime you should check out Bush's BBC interview Bush Defends US Record on Darfur.

See you all on Monday @ 1Opm in USDAN meeting room 110. Don't forget about the Invisible Children call-in at noon on Monday and the screening about the conflict in northern Uganda at 6pm inPAC 001 (brought to you by the Invisible Children 2008 National Tour).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Blog!

Welcome to the new WESTAND blog! This site will be updated regularly, so remember to check it periodically. We will be posting updates about all of our projects, but this blog will be especially useful for our Genocide Education Campaign at Middletown High School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Hopefully we wont be clogging up people's inboxes now.

Yesterday, I met with a second teacher at Woodrow Wilson. She was incredibly enthusiastic and eager to work with us. She was particularly excited about having the high school students attend her classes and work with her students. Tomorrow Josh, Cait, Gitsy, and I are conducting our first presentation at Middletown High School. We will be giving a short introduction to the genocide in Darfur, WESTAND, the AID grant, and we will end with a short video clip about Darfur.

We have a lot going on this semester: Invisible Children (2/18), Northern Uganda Lobby Day (2/24-2/26), April Music Festival, T-shirt fund raising project, call-ins, Genocide Education Campaign, and much more!

Let's keep up the good work!