Raid Cross in the National Capital Region reached 80 students at 3 local high schools this year – Bladensburg, Cardozo and Wakefield – through five separate event days. In order to enhance the programming, we included community building and peer-to-peer education components by recruiting 15 local university students as Raid Cross Facilitators. Facilitators received training that had been carefully planned over three days, including a basic IHL course, Raid Cross game, and a new session on mentoring and engaging youth from a visiting French Red Cross volunteer, Camille Quinton.
The high school participants stepped into the roles of POWs, humanitarian aid workers, military decision makers, and medical personnel through simulated activities. Each activity was followed by a directed debrief with clear learning objectives and references to the Geneva Conventions. The students slipped easily into the role-playing and asked challenging questions, enjoying this non-traditional method of teaching. Each event day ended with a presentation on “War Crimes and its Consequences” and then a round table discussion led by a guest speaker. This year, we were fortunate to have Professor Morris Davis from Howard Law School, who is a former JAG Corp Colonel and prosecutor for Guantanamo Bay, present again. We also welcomed Steve Nabors, who is a local child-rights lawyer and IHL enthusiast.
We were able to link the information in the Raid Cross program with what we knew the students had studied in social studies classes. For instance, we touched on the Vietnam War with a video on the My Lai Massacre and the resulting lack of prosecution. Staceson Myles, a Facilitator from Howard University, commented, “Something that really struck me was the My Lai massacre and I noticed that it really hit home with a lot of the students as well.” The video stirred a lot of discussion about the principle of proportionality and the prosecution of war crimes. Participants were also exposed to new information in a participatory atmosphere. A Cardozo High School student was prompted to comment, “I had no clue humanitarian aid workers have such risky work. I want to be one, too!”, and a few others declared they wanted to study IHL in college.
Sidrah Raza led the development of Raid Cross lesson plans in 2014, in addition to leading the debrief sessions during events. Sidrah’s commitment to the program has been invaluable: “Raid Cross provided me with a platform to broaden young minds towards not only the ghastly realities of warfare but also the necessary laws that serve to protect the vulnerable and bring the perpetrators to justice. Raid Cross Program was able to teach our youth that humanity remains alive even amidst war.”
Guest author: Pamela Baze, Program Specialist, American Red Cross.