2013-2014 Year in Review
STF Events: 2013-2014
STF Alumni Take Action for EMUS
June 22, 2014: In honor of STF’s 15th anniversary, more than 30 alumni gathered at the Second Alumni Reunion Party held at longtime STF friend Ann Kerr’s home.
Participants updated each other on their activities since leaving STF and discussed future plans, including moves to Cambodia, Singapore and New York City. Linda Gordon, outgoing STF Co-President from Santa Monica HS, explained this year’s STF campaign: End Military Use of Schools (EMUS). Attendees paired up, created slogans and took pictures for EMUS.
The reunion was co-hosted by alumni Jasmina Repak, STF co-founder, and Deepti Immaraju, 2010-2011 STF intern. Both have continued to be active and support STF since returning from work in Bosnia and India respectively.
STF Celebrates A Year of Firsts
Photo by Patricia Williams
May 19, 2014: It has been a year of firsts for STF: created and launched an international social media campaign; was featured in an ABC News Flash; met privately with UN Ambassador Samantha Power; gained approval and support from Hart School District Governing Board to establish human rights education electives in district public high schools, and so much more.
Students, teachers and alumni gathered at the annual Year-End Leaders’ Workshop to review and celebrate their many achievements and discuss ways to expand the program in the future.
Paloma Connolly, Palisades HS STF alumna, shared her human rights activism since leaving STF, including her recent arrest at an UC Santa Cruz protest of unfair labor practices. She urged students to advocate smart, understand what they are working towards and what the potential consequences of their actions could mean.
Students left motivated to continue advocating for EMUS throughout the summer and develop fall leadership plans.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn Shocked by EMUS
May 13, 2014: Six members of the Carson STF chapter introduced Congresswoman Janice Hahn to the EMUS campaign on Tuesday. Congresswoman Hahn was enthusiastic to spread the word about EMUS, offering to send letters of support to government representatives and is also willing to make a statement on the House floor, entering the EMUS campaign into the Congressional record.
“It’s going to be you, your generation, people like you who will find a way to bring peace, end war and ensure people’s human rights,” said Congresswoman Hahn as she congratulated STF on their hard work and dedication to the right to education.
Oakwood and Sierra Canyon Collaborate with Congressman Sherman’s Representative
April 30, 2014: STFers from Oakwood and Sierra Canyon schools discussed EMUS with John Alford, the Senior Policy Deputy to Congressman Brad Sherman. After explaining the finer points of the campaign and the Draft Lucens Guidelines, participants explored some of Congressman Sherman’s priorities and brainstormed ways they could help him continue working for a peaceful world. Mr. Alford promised to introduce the congressman to EMUS and figure out how his office can assist the campaign.
Congratulations students for a wonderful meeting!
Golden Valley Presents A History of Genocide
April 29, 2014: Reaching out to more than 500 students, the Golden Valley STF chapter presented a history of genocide with the aid of the film “The Last Survivor.” Over three class periods, the audience learned the stories of survivors of the Holocaust and Rwanda genocides, as well as the conflicts in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the presentations, students were invited to write words of encouragement and friendship on red hearts for Darfuri refugees.
HRW Hosts LA Premiere of “FOOD CHAINS”
Friday, May 16, 2014
6:00 pm Reception with wine and hearty hors d’oeuvres
7:00 pm Film Premiere, followed by Panel Discussion
9:00 pm Reception with coffee and dessert
Ann and Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
This Los Angeles Film Premiere is presented by: The Neda Nobari Foundation
“I go hungry today, so you can eat tomorrow.”
Human Rights Watch is honored to host the Los Angeles premiere of the award-winning documentary, Food Chains (Eva Longoria, Executive Producer). This film explores critical human rights issues in American agriculture from wage theft to modern-day slavery and exposes the powers that perpetuate these un-American violations of human dignity. There is more interest in food in the United States today than at any time in our history. Yet, there is very little interest in the hands that pick our food – the hundreds of thousands of people to whom we are all connected through our purchases at grocery stores, farmers’ markets and restaurants. Human Rights Watch has documented and exposed farmworker abuses, particularly sexual abuses against farmworker women, and pushed for immigration reform at the local and national level.
Buy your tickets online, or call 310-477-5540. Proceeds from this event will support the work of Human Rights Watch around the world. A portion will be allocated to the HRW Student Task Force in Los Angeles, a youth leadership training program that brings together local high school students and educators and empowers them to advocate for human rights issues, especially the rights of children.
Student tickets – $15 General tickets – $25
Pali Commemorates Genocide Awareness Month
April 24, 2014: On the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Pali STF showed “The Last Survivor” to engaged students. Participants learned about the genocides in Armenia and Cambodia, as well as mass atrocities in Chile and Sierra Leone. They discussed the steps to genocide and ways high school students can make a difference.
SCV EMUS Delegation Meets with Congressman McKeon’s Deputy Director
April 10, 2014: Members of AOC, Canyon and Hart Student Task Force chapters met with Congressman McKeon’s Deputy Director, Morris Thomas, and Scheduler, Heather Duncan, to provide background on the urgency to end military use of schools and to request a personal meeting with the Congressman.
Students called for Congressman McKeon to ask the U.S. Department of Defense to review the Draft Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict to examine how they differ from current United States policy, and analyze the feasibility of the United States being able to incorporate the guidelines into the policies of the armed forces. They requested Congressman McKeon share the findings with STF.
The delegation also presented the EMUS quilt made by the Golden Valley STF chapter and walked Mr. Thomas and Ms. Duncan through the EMUS website. Mr. Thomas expressed his desire to learn more about the EMUS Campaign and committed to sending materials to Congressman McKeon’s Washington, D.C. Deputy Director.
SCV STF chapters continue collecting petitions to support EMUS in hopes that they may hand deliver them to Congressman McKeon later in May.
SCV STF Advocates for HRE and EMUS with School Board
April 2, 2014: Members from all five Santa Clarita Valley STF chapters presented the EMUS campaign, outreach efforts at school sites and recent community events to the William S. Hart District Governing Board on Education. To support the EMUS campaign, Board members posed for a picture with slogans made by AOC STF members.
STFers also made a pitch for human rights education (HRE), asking the Board to consider adopting human rights/global studies courses at each campus. They agreed that there is a need to incorporate HRE and recommended that the students meet with school administrators to formally request the HRE elective. The Board also noted that staff professional development on HRE may help incorporate the discussion into the classroom.
“Teachers should be more mindful that human rights can relate to all classes such as English, history, and even chemistry. During a lesson about nuclear fusion/energy in a chemistry class, a lesson plan about the ethics of nuclear weapons could be introduce to make every class stay relevant to today’s issues,” said Jessica Lynn, from AOC, echoing support for the Board’s suggestions.
Congratulations Santa Clarita Valley STF for another successful effort to raise awareness about human rights education in your district!
SAMO STF Hosts HRE Workshop for Teachers
March 26, 2014: For the second year, SAMO STF members hosted teachers and administrators for a Human Rights Education (HRE) workshop during SAMOHI University. A dedicated group of educators and STFers discussed ways to incorporate HRE into English, science and foreign language courses. Students provided participants with suggestions and techniques for introducing HRE through specific lesson plans, reading lists, and other materials.
Attendees asked questions and gave recommendations for reaching out to other faculty to expand this effort on campus. A few teachers also requested to continue the discussion with students and develop more individualized tactics for their classes.
Congratulations SAMO STF for a great job educating this group of teachers about how to include human rights in their classrooms!
Congressman Waxman Supports EMUS
March 18, 2014: Human Rights Watch Student Task Force members from Oakwood, Palisades Charter, Santa Monica, Sierra Canyon and Wildwood chapters met with Congressman Henry Waxman of the 33rd District and presented background about the End Military Use of Schools Campaign.
Following the presentation and discussion, Congressman Waxman was photographed for EMUS andoffered to forward letters of support for EMUS to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry..
“I commend you all for your passion for human rights. It’s wonderful to see students connecting and advocating for other students (around the world)… I support your work,” said Congressman Waxman before posing for a photo for the EMUS Tumblr page.
SAMO STF “Occupies” Freshmen Seminars
February 21, 2014: Santa Monica High School STF hosted a simulation event for the End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign, “occupying” freshmen seminar classes in their Humanities Center.
Beginning as a membership recruitment effort, leaders introduced STF, human rights and the right to education. All of a sudden, the lights went off and the chaos started.
For 90 seconds, mortar fire, gun shots and yelling filled the room as two “soldiers” dressed in black “interrogated” the audience, shining flashlights in their eyes and pulling two students out from the crowd.
Once the lights came back on, STFers read student and teacher testimonies from around the world, further connecting the audience to the horrors of what happens when militaries take over schools.
The event continued with videos, EMUS case study information, an introduction to the Tumblr page and a pitch for interested students to join STF at their next chapter meeting.
With assistance from the drama program and the audio-visual club, Running with Speakers, SAMO STF reached out to nearly 400 students and teachers.
“Hanging Out” With Japan
February 14, 2014: STF leaders from Academy of the Canyon, Santa Monica High School and Palisades Charter High School met with two high schoolers interning with the Human Rights Watch Tokyo office for a Google Hangout session. The students shared engagement and photo gathering techniques, including explanations of different events both the Japanese and American students have hosted since the start of the End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign. They discussed next steps for EMUS in the US and brainstormed ideas of how the Japanese students can continue to expand the campaign on their end.
“My biggest take-away from this event is that we really need to talk across campuses more. You always tell us to get in touch with each other and this made me realize we really need to do that,” said Rachel Kiekhofer, STF Co-President from Santa Monica High School.
The HRW Tokyo office learned about the EMUS Campaign in October during a visit from Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director of the HRW Children’s Rights Division. They have submitted more than 80 pictures for EMUS and plan to hold another photo booth in the coming weeks.
The HRW Tokyo Interns congratulated STF on reaching the 1,000 photo benchmark and said, ”We’re so glad we can be a part of this campaign and raise the voices of Japanese students to help end the military use of schools.”
Congratulations STF for 1,000+ Photos!
A message from Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director, HRW Children’s Rights Division:
“Congratulations Student Task Force for collecting the voices of 1,000 students and teachers calling for an end to the military use of schools. We at Human Rights Watch will now be taking these messages to the world’s decision makers to let them know how important it is to students and teachers for schools to be safe places to study and learn.
“Over the next few months we will be delivering your photos to diplomats at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and we will be taking them to meetings with government officials in Asia, Europe, Canada, and the United States. Thank you for all of your hard work and perseverance (and creativity too). Onwards to the next 1,000!”
Submit your photos today! We need more voices for EMUS!
Join our campaign: www.emuscampaign.org
Like us on Facebook and connect on Twitter and Tumblr
Wildwood Competes for EMUS
February 11, 2014: Wildwood School’s STF chapter successfully ran a school-wide promotion of the End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign. With a goal to educate their campus and collect photos, Wildwood STF created a video that explained the background of this pressing human rights violation. Once the school community was intrigued and informed, the STF chapter introduced the “EMUS Epic Competition.” Each high school advisory was paired up with a middle school advisory. The groups brainstormed original slogans that portrayed powerful messages about the campaign and took photos to be submitted for the event. Advisories were graded on the originality of their slogans and the creativity of their photos and the winners won an advisory breakfast prepared by STF.
Not only did this activity contribute to the overall EMUS campaign and its presence on campus, but it also brought the Wildwood community together in an interactive and engaging way. Congrats Wildwood STF!
Hart Educates With A Heart
February 6, 2014: Hart STF chapter held two assemblies, reaching out to 180 students and teachers on campus. Chapter leaders connected with the audience, conveying the urgency of the End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign through video and PowerPoint. After the presentation, participants took action, creating slogans and posing for photos for the EMUS Tumblr site. Hart STFers will use the slogans and photos on an EMUS “quilt” to be displayed on campus and in outreach efforts with public officials and media.
Congratulations Hart STF for your hard work and great effort raising awareness!
Pitching EMUS at the Winter Workshop
Photos by Patricia Williams
January 8, 2014: Student leaders from STF chapters, teacher advisors and supporters reviewed EMUS campaign progress and prepared for spring advocacy meetings with elected officials and international representatives. Leaders discussed the October Bede Sheppard visit and learned details of the Santa Clarita Valley EMUS library events and Sierra Canyon’s all-school EMUS presentation. Participants broke into groups to plan for the upcoming semester and brainstormed for network connections and pledged to raise total posts to 1,000 photos on Tumblr by Valentine’s Day – “For the Love of Education.” Leaders also practiced “pitching” the EMUS campaign in role-play activities with “representatives” of the media, US Congress and international Consul Generals.
International Human Rights Day!
“We’re delighted to see New York’s landmark building highlighting the work of Human Rights Watch,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “We hope the blue light will inspire everyone to think about the importance of safeguarding human rights at home and abroad.”
Headquartered in the Empire State Building, Human Rights Watch’s 400-plus staff, in more than 90 countries, work to end human rights violations by investigating and exposing abuses, and pressing the powerful to bring about change and hold abusers to account. The HRW Student Task Force stands with Human rights Watch and the victims and activists who prevent discrimination, uphold political freedom, protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and bring offenders to justice.
Thank you for celebrating and working for universal human rights around the world!
STF Team, Pam, Nancy, Kristin, Noelle, Jess and Liz
AOC and Hart Educate Santa Clarita Valley
Sixteen STF members from Academy of the Canyons, Golden Valley High, Hart High and Valencia High hosted an EMUS Campaign exhibit at the Annual Santa Clarita Valley Literacy and Arts Festival on Saturday, December 7 at the Newhall library. STF students provided attendees with information about EMUS and took photos of teens and adults who wanted to join the campaign. In addition, attendees were asked to sign a petition to local Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon calling for his support of EMUS. Young children had a great time finger painting as they created Trees of Knowledge as their way to show solidarity with children who do not have access to safe schools. The beautiful artwork will be on display in each of the city libraries. STF leaders plan to take one of the completed trees and petitions to Congressman McKeon’s office in spring 2014.
Huge thanks to our wonderful STF members: Erick Calderon, Robert Herrera, Rudy Palacios, Enrique Nolasco, Shayda Azamian, Matthew Nali, Therese Liwag, Sara Liu, Don Kim, Esme Erdynast, Jessica Lynn, Gabrielle Zacky, Joey Gangley, Lauren Dam, Lorenzo Medina and Sarah Struble.
Sierra Canyon Learns About EMUS
Photos by Susie Turner Jones
November 20, 2013: The Sierra Canyon STF Chapter, the FREE Club, hosted an event to introduce the End Military Use of Schools Campaign to their school. Club members introduced the campaign, gave examples of what the campaign is and what it is not, and showed the EMUS Tumblr page. Multiple videos were used, including the EMUS Campaign video, India EMUS case study video, and Malala Yousafzai addressing the United Nations. The FREE club also gathered more than 100 pictures of students and faculty for the EMUS Tumblr site at the photo booth.
Congratulations to the FREE Club for their successful event and for bringing awareness to their community!
HRW Defenders Join International EMUS Campaign
November 12, 2013: In an evening of empowerment, the Student Task Force joined Human Rights Watch to honor Natalia Taubina (Russia) and Alina Diaz (U.S.) with the 2013 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.
Prior to the annual dinner and award ceremony, STF hosted a reception for students and teachers to meet the honorees and HRW researchers, Tanya Lokshina, Deputy Director of HRW’s Moscow office, and Grace Meng, researcher in the HRW US Program. Students were inspired by Ms. Diaz, who works to protect immigrant farmworkers from sexual assault, and Ms. Taubina, who exposes police abuse in Russia.
Before departing the STF reception, Alina, Natalia, Tanya and Grace adopted EMUS slogans and added their “voices” to end military use of schools. Later in the evening, special guest Ashton Kutcher thanked Natalie and Alina for their courage and ongoing work.
Watch videos from the STF reception
Photos by Patricia Williams
Bede Sheppard Visits Carson, Pali, SAMO, New Roads and STF leaders
Photos by Patricia Williams
October 9, 2013: Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director of HRW’s Children’s Rights Division, met with students at Carson HS, Palisades Charter HS, Santa Monica HS and New Roads School to discuss the consequences of armies and rebel groups taking over schools in 24 countries around the world. Late in the day, in a special session at HRW offices, Bede worked with STF leaders from 11 high schools to develop strategies for local and international activism to promote this year’s End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign. After meetings with STF, Bede traveled to Japan for EMUS advocacy with public officials and also met with Japanese students, who immediately started posting their photos to EMUScampaign.org.
SCV STF to Host “Girl Rising” Events
When: Friday, October 11
Time: 4:30pm matinee and 7:30pm encore
Where: Hart High School Auditorium
24825 North Newhall Avenue, Santa Clarita
About the film: ”Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film, directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, which tells the stories of nine extraordinary girls from nine countries, written by nine celebrated writers and narrated by nine renowned actresses. Girl Rising showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world.”
For more information: email Nancy Nazarian Medina or Liz Delgado
Suggested donation of $5 per ticket
Concessions will be available for sale
STF Launches the EMUS Campaign!
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, more than 70 participants representing 14 high schools and many STF supporters gathered for the annual STF Fall Leadership Workshop at UCLA. Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director of the HRW Children’s Rights Division, introduced STFers to the End Military Use of Schools (EMUS) Campaign via video from Europe. Participants were also inspired to continue defending the Right to Education by Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations compliments of UNTV.
In the coming weeks, STF leaders will share multimedia and EMUS resources with their chapters to educate them for the campaign to end military use of schools around the world. Check out the event’s slideshow and the EMUS advocacy tool kit.
The workshop was generously co-sponsored by the UCLA International Institute.
Thank you to all who were able to attend the workshop. We look forward to working with you and your growing STF chapters.
Your STF Team,
Pam, Kristin, Nancy, Jess, Liz and Noelle
Photos by Patricia WIlliams
2013 Fall Leadership Workshop Save the Date
Welcome back STF class of 2013-2014! As you head back to school we invite you to one of our most important events of the year: STF Fall Leadership Workshop!
Who: You, your fellow STF leaders, teachers, advisors, and speakers
Where: UCLA, Kerckhoff Hall
When: Saturday, September 21
Campaign: End Military Use of Schools
More information coming soon. Mark your calendars and RSVP today!
*Due to ACT testing, this year’s Fall Leadership Workshop will be in the afternoon. Lunch and the meet and greet will be from 12:30-1:15pm to allow test takers time to get to the workshop.
If you have any questions, or want to volunteer to help organize the workshop, please contact Kristin Ghazarians.
SCV STF Meets with Assemblyman Wilk On SB260
Photos by Nancy Nazarian Medina
August 16, 2013: STF members representing the Santa Clarita Valley STF Chapters met with Assemblyman Scott Wilk to seek his support for SB260. Marie-Claire Erdynast (Co-President, Hart STF) opened the meeting with an introduction about STF and the work the students have done to support children’s rights. Sara Liu (Secretary, Hart STF) spoke about the need for California to reform the way it sentences youth offenders. STF Alumni Audrey Abergel and Laurent Abergel (former Co-Presidents, Valencia STF) asked Assemblyman Wilk to consider the key role that rehabilitation can play in the lives of the youth offenders. Assemblyman Wilk expressed an interest in the youth perspective and told the STF delegation that he would take the time to read the materials they provided in addition to other sources he was receiving from other constituents. Assemblyman Wilk encouraged the STF members to continue their work and to serve as leaders in the Santa Clarita community.
On September 6, the Assembly approved SB260 and on September 9, it was concurred in the Senate. The bill is now on its way to the Governor for consideration and signature. Unfortunately, Assemblyman Wilk did not vote to support SB260. STF students in his district plan to continue an open dialogue with him regarding the importance of reforming the juvenile justice system.
Second Human Rights Educators Gathering
Photos by Patricia Williams
August 12, 2013: Human Rights Activists, educators and students gathered at the Los Angeles offices of Human Rights Watch for the second meeting of the HRE USA network. Regional members met to build partnerships and encourage resource-sharing of ideas and materials for implementing HRE.
Presentations from three regional HRE programs offered participants new resources. Ashley Steimer-King, of Girls Learn International (GLI), shared the GLI Guidebook with handouts, activities and lesson plans for learning about girls’ human rights and advocating for girls’ education. Wesley Farrow, from the RFK Center, presented the Speak Truth to Power program with an in depth look at the play, curriculum and outreach efforts, including the Youth Speaking Truth program, a video contest and RFK Center’s Project Seatbelt. USC Shoah Foundation’s Amy Carnes gave a tour of the i-Witness website and explained how students and teachers can use the video library to gain a better understanding of genocide and human rights. Amy propsed the i-Witness Video Challenge, which encourages
Other regional members also shared their lesson plans and suggestions, research methods and international HRE initiatives, including HRW Student Task Force’s and i-Act’s Human Rights Mobile Library project.
For more information or if you would like to be involved with future regional initiatives, please contact Pam Bruns, HRE USA Regional Coordinator for Southern California, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kristin Ghazarians, HRW STF Project Liaison, at email@example.com.
Read minutes from the Gathering!