The Bayside High School Red Cross Club’s success in our 2014 IHL Action Campaign on child soldiers has inspired our previous and new team members to do another campaign on this year’s topic of refugees. Last year’s enlightening experiences of class presentations and social media allowed us to reach thousands of people in our IHL Action Campaign. With this year’s Campaign, though, our team is implementing these effective modes of raising awareness a little differently. Many people perceive refugees to be in foreign countries or areas of conflict that are well outside of their communities and families. While this is true in some cases, some people tend to think that refugees are not a present issue. Our objective is to bring light of the entire issue to our audiences and classrooms by giving refugees a familiar face. Whether that face be that of a parent, school teacher, friend, or even a celebrity, our IHL Action Campaign team is driving home the fact that refugees are everywhere, including in our communities.
Class Teach-ins: Making Refugees Relevant
“Are you all familiar with Jackie Chan?” our group presenters asked as we finished explaining the definition and hardships of refugees in our class presentation. In response, the class of freshmen roared in excitement, “No duh! Where else would I have learned all of my Kung Fu moves?” Excited as they were, the students fell silent when we announced that Jackie Chan was a refugee who fled from the Chinese Civil War to Australia in 1960. We continued, “Do you guys know Bob Marley? How about Albert Einstein? They are and were just a few of the thousands of refugees in this world.” The minds of 250 freshmen and their teachers were blown away by these facts.
In the early stages of our IHL Acton Campaign, our team realized that if an issue is not immediate to a person or community, then that issue will be of less importance to that person or community. However, if the issue exists within their families or friends, then the issue will seem more relevant and invoke a call to action. Through the faces of relatable people (famous or individual acquaintances), our team is successfully managing to reach out to our local community about IHL and refugees. This is just one aspect of our Action Campaign, though, as we also conducted pre-surveys and post-surveys during our class presentations, and provided links to websites for more information, including our Instagram: @RefugeesofNY.
We also have an upcoming bake sale, in addition to an IHL Day within our school to help spread awareness of refugees by wearing red.
During the IHL Action Campaign, our team has come to learn more about IHL as yet another topic to on which to raise awareness. Of all the things we have learned, however, the most interesting and surprising lesson is that refugees are everywhere: refugees are among us.
*The purpose of the IHL Action Campaign is for young people to teach their peers about the importance of IHL, as well as issues related to gender, refugees, and humanitarianism.