Grabbing the attention of a large group of people can be difficult, especially when the topics are not something everyone feels comfortable talking about. “War,” “conflict zones,” “international law,” and “global affairs” are some of the buzzwords that do not automatically catch the attention of college students. This leaves a rather significant hurdle to jump when trying to talk about the importance of international humanitarian law (IHL) on a college campus where students can often be secluded, cut off from what is happening in the rest of the world, and oblivious to the implications of these events. Elmira College’s IHL team had difficulty thinking of a way to present this topic to a large number of people and keep their interest – especially since this was the first time the campus has heard anything like it.
College students are busy and sometimes need an extra push in order to get involved in something like the Action Campaign. In order to teach IHL and reach as many people as possible, we found it important to incorporate a hands-on approach to learning that is fun, informative, and relatable. How many times have you come into contact with the zombie phenomenon in the past year? Whether watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead or perhaps iZombie, zombies have become a popular topic. Our IHL team decided to capitalize on this interest by creating a game that includes the appeal of imaginary zombies to teach the very real dangers facing the healthcare field in armed conflict.
Tying a popular phenomenon to an important global topic has helped expand the IHL Action Campaign on campus. If all goes as planned, our IHL team hopes that this program will become an annual event at Elmira College so that the opportunity to learn is available year after year.
Author: Mhairi Holmes, Elmira College IHL Action Campaign Team, Western and Central New York Region
*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 healthcare in danger, torture, and humanitarianism.