Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Who says high school is a waste of time?

Our high school is honoring the Days of Rememberance by presenting a week long slate of incredibly exciting and moving speakers. Here's the agenda:

Days of Remembrance is Monday, April 7 through Friday, April 11, 2008

This is an annual series of programs to educate the school community on genocide and crimes against humanity around the world. Parents are welcome to attend and I would be happy to tell anyone living in our community how to contact the Enrichment Coordinator.


Aziz Isaak
-Sudan, C Block, 9:50 - 10:45, Lecture Hall

Born and raised in a village in southwestern Sudan, Aziz Isaak was selected to attend the prestigious College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum. After a dangerous overland journey from Khartoum, Aziz arrived alone and nearly penniless in Addis Ababa in August, 1994. With the help of friends and other Sudanese political refugees, he was able to start painting again and eventually was offered an exhibition at the Italian Embassy.

He seeks to express human motives, emotion and movement, particularly as they relate to the culture and the natural environment of present-day Sudan. He will bring his paintings with him and talk about his experiences as a Sudanese artist and refugee, the history and the current situation in Sudan.

Steve Ross - Holocaust, D Block 10:50 - 11:05, Auditorium

Steve Ross survived ten Nazi concentration camps as a child during the Holocaust. He will talk about the pain that he will always feel - indeed, he still has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ross also plans to mention his experience last year, of trying to get in to the school, in order to protest Noam Chomsky's presentation. Ross speaks with passion, anger, compassion and urgency. This will be one of the more harrowing tales told during the "Days of Remembrance." Please join us in memory of what Steve went through. There will be a screening of two film clips on Thursday, April 3, during J Block (in the lecture hall) of The Gray Zone and Memory of the Camps which will give you background to the presentation.


Panther Alier--Lost Boys of Sudan, A Block, 7:40 - 8:35, Lecture Hall

Panther Alier is one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. When a civil war in Sudan broke out, his family was separated. Alier, along with hundreds of other children from his village, trekked thousands of miles to Ethiopia, then walked for thousands more miles when a second civil war broke out. Finally, he spent 9 harsh years living in a Kenyan refugee camp. Alier arrived in Boston in 2001 when the U.S. relocated some of the Lost Boys. He graduated UMass with a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in political science. Now, Alier is studying Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University.

Dikran Kaligian--Armenian Genocide, E Block, 11:10 - 12:25, Lecture Hall

Dikran Kaligian is an expert on the Armenian genocide. He will talk with us about the history of the Genocide, and also the history of its denial. Since the genocide occurred, the Turkish government has covered it up, and this denial continues to the present day.

Rosian Zerner-Holocaust, C Block, 1:00 - 1:55 Lecture Hall

"I was asked to tell my story of survival during the Holocaust in the Kovno Ghetto, Lithuania and in hiding. I speak because it is my hope that the memory of the victims will be honored and the Holocaust serve as the symbol of what should not be repeated in history. I speak to tell those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened or attempt to diminish it that I am here, alive as one of the last generation of witnesses. I speak because I want the world to know that there are righteous human beings who risked their own lives and those of their families to save others and that this spark of goodness lives in us and we need to kindle it for a better world. And I speak to you because you, the high school students, who are our future, can help create and shape this better world."

It is likely that an Anti-Defamation League representative will join Rosian, and they would act as a panel. The ADL representative would talk about the escalation of hate, and how genocide begins. Each would speak for fifteen minutes, followed by a Q & A session at the end of the period.


Susannah Sirkin-Darfur, A Block, 7:40 - 8:55, Lecture Hall

Susannah Sirkin is the deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), and has traveled to Darfur in the past. She will talk about her experiences and her expertise, commenting on the general history of genocide as well.

Andrew Slack-Activism, F Block, 11:00 - 12:15, Auditorium

Andrew Slack is the creator, cofounder, and Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance, an organization that uses textual evidence from Harry Potter to educate and mobilize over 100,000 young people around social justice issues such as ending the genocide in Darfur. Andrew's HP Alliance piece for the LA Times was viewed over 138,000 times (the most viewed and emailed article on the LA Times for two days). Further, through small donations he raised over 6,000 dollars for women in Darfur, protecting over 1600 Darfuri women for a whole year.

In this talk, Andrew is going to be talking about the importance of remembering the past through action in the present. He will specifically focus on the importance of understanding that we as a human race are obliged to make sure that Never Again means Never Again not only in our words but in our actions and how the sky is the limit when it comes to peaceful actions. Andrew will talk about his experience in the Harry Potter Alliance and learning how to mobilize people through their interests. An engaging speaker, Andrew has presented on the Harry Potter Alliance at MIT, Tufts, and Brandeis.



"My presentation will discuss the moral responsibilities of bystanders to genocide (as well as other forms of mass violence and oppression). I will offer some historical examples of both positive and negative conduct. I plan to highlight the difficulties those who intervened faced as well as how easy it is to rationalize not acting, contrasted with how easy it is for us in retrospect to see ourselves as bystanders who would have intervened, while today we face situations we often do not intervene against. I will then present some contemporary issues for students to consider and invite a discussion of what our responses should be."

Yan Bielek--Communism in Czechoslovakia, D Block, 9:50 - 10:45, Lecture Hall

Yan Bielek, author of Just Don't Turn Around discusses his first hand experience with communism and harrowing escape from oppressive and controlling communist rule in his native Czechoslovakia, leaving everything behind. He and his family endured months of life in a refugee camp in Austria before finally making their way to the USA. They end up in Cumberland RI and rebuild their lives from scratch. A truly remarkable story of survival and determination.

The Devil Came On Horseback-- Darfur Conflict (Film), G Block, 10:50 - 12:05, Auditorium

The Devil Came on Horseback is a documentary film illustrating the continuing Darfur Conflict in Sudan. Based on the book by former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle and his experiences while working as an unarmed military observer for the African Union, the film version had its premiere at film festivals in early and mid-2007. This documentary is a Break Thru Films production in association with Global Grassroots and Three Generations.

Lenna Garibian--Armenian Genocide, F Block, 12:40 - 1:35, Lecture Hall

Lenna Garibian eloquently tells a true story of suffering and the courage to overcome it. Lenna will begin her speech with a brief background on the history of the Armenian Genocide and the controversy that surrounds it. Then she will devote most of her speech to her grandmother's escape from the Armenian Genocide. Her grandmother was only five when she was forced out of her home with her mother and three year-old brother. They walked through the desert until her mother died of starvation and shortly after, her brother became lost never to be found. Her five year-old grandmother walked alone to escape the violence that many others could not, and she has lived with the guilt of losing her brother ever since then. Lenna is an activist for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and she tells her grandmother's story in hopes that we can learn from the past.


Sothea Chiemruom --Cambodian Genocide, B Block, 9:00 - 9:55, Lecture Hall

Sothea will speak with us about the Cambodian Genocide. More info is coming!

Rabbi Or Rose--Darfur Video/Genocide Discussion, G Block, 10:10 - 11:05

Rabbi Rose will share a video with us, "Voices From Darfur," and lead a discussion. We will discuss the spiritual and moral aspects of the conflict, as well as talk about the parallels among the multiple genocides of the past century.

Professor David Gil, F Block, 1:00 - 1:55, Lecture Hall

Professor David Gil teaches at Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Professor Gil studies and teaches societal roots of oppression, links between social institutions and human development, the nature and dynamics of social policy, and strategies to transform social orders into development - conducive ways of life. Professor Gil will discuss his own experiences with genocide and other crimes against humanity while incorporating his own unique perspective on the origins and solutions of atrocities like these.

Merzudin Ibric-- Bosnia Ethnic Cleansing, F Block, 1:00 - 1:55 Auditorium

"I will be speaking about experiencing war and genocide firsthand. I was 6 years old when the war broke out in Bosnia - a war that raged from 1992-1995 and was responsible for over 200,000 deaths. Because we were Muslims, my family was targeted by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of ethnic cleansing. Almost immediately the war hit home when my 2 year old sister was struck by a bomb which exploded in our backyard while she, my brother, and I were playing hide and seek. Her leg was severely injured. Later, my uncle was killed by snipers and we had to bury his body by candlelight behind blankets, so the Serbs would not see us and begin shooting. My family narrowly escaped the massacre at Srebrenica. Later we found out that over 7,800 people were massacred in that city. My speech will focus on the effects of growing up this way, and what I believe can be done to stop future genocides.

I'm really proud of our community for putting together such a stirring program for all of the kids at the high school. There are varying stories to be told, but all of them focus on the absurdity of war, ethnic cleansing, ethnic hatred, and holocausts. When this list was presented, all I could think of is, "When are we going to learn?" Right now in Iraq there is an ethnic war going on that this administration would like to pretend isn't happening. But it is. Shia against Sunni, there is a struggle to survive for all the citizens of Iraq who just want to live their lives in peace. We are constantly taught by the Bush team that these people are our enemies, but mostly, they are just people trying to survive. Yes, there are terrorists in the mix and they are dangerous. But is the answer to kill the entire population, innocents included?

Perhaps this series of lectures will enable the kids in our school community to think more carefully about the actions of their government, and how important it is to elect people who care about human lives and not just about personal financial gain and portraying a badass Texas cowboy.

What is your school doing to teach your kids about such important issues?

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Blogger Robin said...

Wow. I am very, very impressed with your school. I wish I could attend the lectures too.

2/4/08 1:42 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

They have this series every year before Pesach (60% of the kids are members of the tribe) and last year Noam Chomsky turned the town INSANE, but I was impressed that they invited him. It's good to hear alternate points of view.

2/4/08 1:57 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Daughter would have loved these. When she was in high school, she always enjoyed the guest speakers and special events. She learns so much! Kudos to the school for making the effort to bring in these fascinating people.

2/4/08 9:47 AM  

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