Jenny Quirindongo & Laura Bennett
University Heights High School & Mott Haven Village Prep. High School | Bronx, NY
Fellowship: Investigate how human rights violations compare in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to consider how people have attempted to reconcile atrocities and combat future violations to
“My learning aroused a range of emotions, from feeling both horrified and depressed, to inspired,” said Laura. “For me, what I will take away from this experience and teach in my classroom is empathy and empowerment. Empathy to want to make the world a better place and empowerment to do so. Young people need to feel they have a voice and can make a change. Once we lose that, and our spirit of activism, (and I hope it’s not too late) I feel we are only steps away from the unimaginable ourselves.”
Brian Peck & Zach McCullough II
Osborne High School & Mumford High School | Detroit
Fellowship: Experience language and cultural immersion within a Honduran Garifuna village to improve personal understanding of this unique Afro-Latino community fighting for ancestral lands and produce a novel with accompanying digital curriculum for novice Spanish students about the African diaspora in Latin America, human rights and Honduras’ current crisis.
“Our goal was to capture stories of young Garifuna people who can help our students understand the history of this dynamic Afro-latino community. I joined a Witness for Peace walk for a human rights delegation across Honduras (pictured below) and interviewed people at Arcoiris, an LGBT organization in Tegucigalpa that has faced unfathomable repression since 2009 after a military coup usurped the democratically elected president.
Prior to this trip I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of indigenous people’s history in Honduras and the degree to which they must struggle for their rights and land. I think I will always keep the essential question of how indigenous people are impacted by policies as a foreground of any inquiry in my classroom. Whether we are speaking of foreign policy or immigration, my students and I need to know how to research and understand indigenous history and present-day narratives.”
Meaghan McKinnon & Christina Caceres
Harvey Elementary | Kenosha, WI
Fellowship: Visit civil and human rights museums and meet with grassroots organizers in Atlanta and Washington DC to explore historical changemakers and connect this learning with the federal government’s structure to identify how individuals can make a difference in order to cultivate a change mindset among students.
“Instructional practices will change from teaching about heroes to becoming part of their stories. Being able to experience nearly first-hand the injustices people faced, we walked away empowered to create our own legacies. While this fellowship has afforded us the opportunity to bring more engaging material resources into our classrooms, we also left inspired to find more people who can share their stories. The value of a personal connection has never been as clear as it is now.”
Sunset Ridge School | East Hartford CT
Fellowship: Study current and past human rights issues by traveling to landmarks/sites in Belgium and the Netherlands, including the European Commission, Humanity House, and Anne Frank House. This will broaden my understanding of human rights issues in order to enhance my teaching at an International Baccalaureate school that focuses on global perspectives.
“The Holocaust and human rights are topics that I was already passionate about, but now I have new knowledge, understanding, and a renewed energy to address these topics in my classroom. Students will benefit because they will be able to hear my first-hand experiences and see my photos of the Anne Frank House, concentration camp, and a variety of museums. I am also bringing personal accounts and texts back to my classroom that will enhance my lessons and make learning more relevant and authentic.”
Lisa Trebtoske, Byron High School | Byron MI
Fellowship: Study multiculturalism in Western Europe and the methods used by human rights organizations, museums, and educational institutions to promote tolerance to develop a school-wide social justice curriculum focused on global awareness and student advocacy.
“This experience afforded me a magnifying glass to peer into the stories of individuals who are affected by a fear of multiculturalism, from Anne Frank to Ammar from Paris. Each story, each artifact, was a lesson on what it means to be human. After talking with Lore Gablier from the European Cultural Foundation, I have decided to emulate her project, Idea Camp, with my English 12 students. I am going to create a senior exit project based around student advocacy. Idea Camp is a project in which participants from across Europe may submit proposals that will affect their communities. Similarly, I will use the methods she suggested to implement a student advocacy project instead of traditional curriculum.”
Motivated by Margret Atkinson‘s two FFT fellowships focused on advocacy, her students started an enterprise to educate, inspire and engage people in real-world change based on the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights. Watch their recent interview on local television and support them and human rights by purchasing items from their Upstander Brand website.
(Top photo taken by Meghan McKinnon at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.)