Saturday, March 1, 2008

High School Update

Yesterday, Gitsy, Kaitlyn, Josh and I (Cait) went again to the high school classroom that we had visited two weeks ago (Mrs. Bailey’s class). We began by asking them if they had any questions or wanted to talk about the article that they had found relating to Darfur or genocide in general. One student had found an article relating to China and the 2008 Olympics. To paraphrase, he argued that he thought that China had the right to do whatever it wanted and to get oil from Sudan if that is what it wanted. Another student agreed with him.

We were all tentative to argue our opinions but Mrs. Bailey was not. She raised her hand to disagree with both of the boys. We suggested that we watch the film first and then continue to discuss the issue afterward.

We showed the film “Voices on Darfur,” a powerful fourteen minute long film with first-hand accounts by victims of the atrocities that they survived. It was great to watch the student’s faces as they watched the film—they were filled with emotions of sadness, surprise and anger. For many, this was the first time that they had seen visuals of what is occurring in Darfur.

We began discussing the film and fielding questions as one large group. With only ten minutes left in class, we broke into four different groups to further discuss the film. This proved to be really beneficial. Many of the more quiet students in class spoke up in the small groups and asked many questions. The two students that had argued in agreement with China changed their standpoint on the issue. One student commented that he “just [thought] that it was so dumb” that China continued to buy oil from Sudan if they knew what was going on.

We discussed what particular images and scenes stood out to them in the film and why. The film also placed on emphasis on activism and we discussed what they thought that they could do to help end the conflict and the violence. One group focused a lot on the map of the handout that we had given them, asking many questions about the surrounding countries’ involvement and questioning why these countries were not doing more to end the violence. The definition of genocide was not discussed at length.

We gave them a homework assignment of talking to at least one person about the situation in Darfur—asking them if they knew about it, discussing what they knew etc—and to be prepared to report back to us next class.

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