Sitting in science, math, and psychology classes for most of my pre-med life, it was hard to learn about much more than the textbook material or recently published journal articles. I often found myself browsing through CNN.com to try to catch up on the happenings of the world. My dad is a strong believer in the concept of “street-smarts,” you see, and he values them more than any “book-smarts” I could attain through my academic pursuits. And yet, as I read international news articles on CNN, very rarely did I find something that pertained to humanitarian law in wartime.
Truth is, my upbringing in the US has left me blind to many atrocities that people face on a daily basis. Every once in a while, a news story pops up about injustice in a foreign country and we feel a sense of outrage over what is happening. Every once in a while…that is it. But after my experience with IHL, I came to know that injustice is a constant variable in numerous countries across the world.
From that day onwards, I felt a duty to pass on the knowledge of International Humanitarian Law to as many people as possible around me. As someone aspiring to become a physician, I was generally taught that a career in medicine was about saving lives and giving patients the best chance to live a quality life again. Through IHL, however, it became clear to me that protecting people from losing a quality life and giving them the best chance to survive despite adversity is one of the universal virtues that every single person, physician or not, should pursue.
My hope is that one day we will have a large enough member base to take the next step towards making IHL a known concept in every household. From my own experience, the relationships you make with people through the program are unbreakable, for it is people coming together for a common universal cause. And that, is something that gives fulfillment greater than any textbook has ever given me. It is, quite simply, an education unlike any other.
Author: Gautam Adusumilli, IHL Student Representative, American Red Cross St. Louis Chapter