Teacher's Project Addresses Darfur Crisis

Genocide Survivor Speaks at Buchtel
Posted on 05/18/2018
Image of News Sign(as reported by Theresa Cottom, Ohio.com/Akron Beacon Journal)

Teachers at Buchtel Community Learning Center are working with their 10th-grade students to show the community that the problems they read about in history books do not necessarily remain in the past.

Students hosted the event at 6 p.m. Thursday to launch their Dreams for Darfur Project and raise awareness about the Darfur genocide currently occurring in Western Sedan.

The event featured a keynote speech from El-Fadel Arbab, a Darfur genocide survivor, along with a fundraiser for the victims.

This year, 10th-graders studied imperialism and abusive power in history and English. But Kristy Nelson, a 10th-grade English teacher, wanted to make sure the lessons resonated with the kids.

“We wanted to teach our kids that what happens isn’t just history. A lot of students don’t know genocide still happens,” Nelson said. “We really wanted to get students to think outside themselves.”

Nelson and a social studies teacher, Logan Mullet, partnered with other teachers, the Buchtel PTA and Global Ties Akron to start a project for 10th-graders that will teach them while giving them the opportunity to make a difference.

During the Dreams for Darfur event, which was open to the public, the audience heard from Arbab about his experience with the Darfur genocide, which has led to about 500,000 deaths since 2003.

After his speech, students were in the cafeteria with presentations about the Darfur genocide, along with information about other modern genocides.

Students collected money for the Darfur Women Action Group, which advocates for victims and assists displaced refugees. Their goal is to collect $1,000.

Nelson said students have been heavily involved in the project throughout the year by selecting the organization to support, researching the cause and raising publicity for the event.

Nelson held a similar event in 2013 with the help of a grant, and she’s taught her students about Darfur in the years since. But this year, with the help of another grant, she’s been able to pull the resources together to hold an event once again.

“When you get to the heart, sometimes [students] really surprise you,” Nelson said. “It stays with you, it changes you. That’s what I hope for the students — I want them to learn they do have the power to make a difference.”
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