STF Wraps Up 2011-2012
On June 4 leaders representing 10 STF chapters attended the Year-End Meeting to celebrate an ambitious year of activism. Thank you to everyone for your dedication to the Right to Education campaign and all the amazing events you made possible, especially the launch of the Human Rights Mobile Libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.
During our meeting, we said goodbye to our wonderful STF Interns, Suzanne Johnson, Mason Butts, Doug Smith and Kristina Bruno, who volunteered their time and talents to support each STF chapter. We also thanked STF Project Liaison Gabe Barreras for his two years of service and wished him well at USC for a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning. Gabe said, “I eventually want to be able to help vulnerable and marginalized communities rebuild following major disasters, conflict and years of injustice.” We hope to maintain his innovations in communications and are happy he is only a shout away at USC.
STF Releases the 2012 Annual Report
Congratulations to all STF students, teachers and partners who were an integral part of the 2011-12 school year! The STF Team is delighted to share with you our 12th Anniversary Report, a reflection on the successes of STF’s most recent campaigns and projects. Some highlights inlcude a timeline of the year, an in-depth look at the Human Rights Mobile Library in Darfuri refugee camps, our Juvenile Justice campaign, STF student writings and a glimpse at some of STF’s alumni.
Please share the report with your families, friends and teachers. We thank you for all your efforts, and we look forward to many more amazing years of human rights education in our schools and in the Los Angeles area.
STF Partners with Local School for Human Rights Conference
May 21, 2012: On May 21st, the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force was invited to attend the Second Annual Human Rights Conference at Vaughn International Studies Academy in Pacoima, CA. The conference was organized by ETHA (EngagingTeens in Humanitarian Action), a student leadership group whose focus is to educate their school community about human rights issues.
STF was one of dozens NGO’s engaging students during an exhibit period about the importance of a variety of human rights issues. In addition, STF leaders from Valencia High School presented “A Global Lens on Education” to students in four breakout sessions. STF members ended each session explaining the development of the Mobile Library project and what it means to them to have activily participated in the Right to Education campaign. Throughout the conference, STF came into contact with hundreds of students and discussed the efforts of STF in the community to advocate on behalf of children’s rights.
Santa Clarita Valley Students Present a Global Lens on Education Through Art
May 17, 2012: STF members from Academy of the Canyons, Canyon, Golden Valley, Hart and Valencia High Schools partnered with the City of Santa Clarita Library to present “A Global Lens on Education” last night at the Valencia Library. The presentation took the audience through a journey around the world as each STF chapter explored education barriers faced by children living in 5 regions: Southeast Asia, Middle East, Latin America, the United States and Africa. The evening closed with a focus on the R2E Mobile Library. Audience members were invited to step into the Mobile Library Simulation and view a collection of student art supporting children’s rights following the presentation. Paola Mondragon, 9th grader at Hart High School, received an award as the 2012 Art Contest winner.
Alephonsion Deng Visits Carson High School
May 11, 2012: Alephonsion Deng joined Carson High’s STF for a private lunch where he reminded everyone of the power of individual stories. He also observed that many people say “we” too often — by using “we”, a story is generalized for a group and can be diluted of its demonstrative power. Instead, if we say “I”, a simple story can become a more powerful statement belonging to an individual with a name, a personality, and a unique set of values and personal history.
Following lunch, Alepho shared his story as a former Lost Boy of Sudan-turned refugee to over 300 Carson students in grades 9-12. This was Alepho’s final speaking engagment with STF for the 2011-12 school year, and we extend our deepest appreciation for all his time and willingness to tell his story to STF and our communities.
Special Video Report: Human Rights Libraries – April 2012
It has been one month since Gabriel Stauring and the I-ACT team arrived in Camp Djabal for their twelfth visit to the refugee camps. This trip was particularly significant because STF established the second Human Rights Mobile Library in Camp Goz Amer, under the leadership of Umda Tarbosh.
In this video taken by Gabriel Stauring, Rahma and Umda Tarbosh offer their insights on education in the camps and the importance of the Mobile Library materials including the atlases, human rights documents and the English materials selected and created by STF students.
“Lost Boy of Sudan” Visits Pali High
By JACK DAVIS, Special to the Palisadian-Post.
Students at Palisades High heard a challenging speaker on April 13 when a former Lost Boy of Sudan, Alephonsion Deng, came to school to share his inspiring story. Alepho, a 32-year-old Sudanese refugee, currently resides near San Diego, where he has lived since he moved to the United States in 2001.
PaliHi’s student-run club, Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF), organized this event to raise awareness of injustice around the world and the importance of education. This year, the chapter is advocating for the ‘Right to Education’ with other 11 schools in the Los Angeles area.
Led by seniors Jonathan Castillo and Julian Duarte, the Pali STF meets every Wednesday at lunch under the guidance of teachers Angelica Pereyra and Sandra Martin, and Human Rights Watch STF Interns Suzanne Johnson and Kristina Bruno. Each week, students have been coming together to gain awareness and take action to fight the barriers that deny children the right to education here in the United States (for example, the challenges faced by homeless children, child farm workers and students in failing schools) and around the world, especially those in refugee camps and conflict zones.
STF Simulates the Human Rights Mobile Library with Peers
February – March 2012: STF members at Valencia, Santa Monica and New Roads High Schools engaged their fellow students with a simulation of the Human Rights Mobile Libraries that STF is establishing within Darfuri refugee camps in Chad. Students who attended the event learned more about the history of Darfuri refugees as well as the logistics of transporting and operating the mobile library in refugee camps. Students responded with written messages to refugee students and by signing petitions to President Obama urging the United States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lost Boy of Sudan Speaks at Wildwood, Academy of the Canyons and Crossroads
“The power of education is like magic,” Alephonsion (Alepho) Deng told Wildwood’s Middle and Upper School students. Alepho shared that as a boy he believed gaining an education was like becoming a wizard, who could know truths about the world that are hidden from people without an education. After fleeing his village in Sudan, Alepho learned his village was attacked and his people displaced by government-backed militias because the government wanted to tap oil reserves just beneath the tranquil ground of his village.
Consecutively, Alepho spoke with students at Academy of the Canyons on March 9, and with Crossroads School on March 12.
Alepho’s series of presentations are in coordination with STF’s Right to Education campaign and the Human Rights Mobile Library project.
STF Leaders Convene to Launch New Year and Semester
January 10, 2012: On Tuesday, January 10, over 40 student leaders, teachers, guests and members of the STF Team attended STF’s Leaders Meeting to kick off our Spring 2012 semester to re-energize our Right to Education campaign. Download the minutes here.
Leaders prepared for the spring while highlighting successes from the fall semester including:
- STF created materials and established two Human Rights Mobile Libraries in refugee camps in Southeastern Chad.
- Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott presented photos, videos and intimate stories from I-ACT’s most recent trip to Chad in support of Darfuri refugees. Video of their presentation will be available soon.
- The STF Team presented a list of organizing ideas and opportunities for STF chapters to plan events based on the Right to Education this spring. Download meeting minutes here.
Learn more about Adam and Rahma, the Human Rights Mobile Librarians.
Reporting from Camp Djabal: STF Holds Conference Call With i-ACT
November 30, 2011: Click below to hear STF’s call with Gabriel Stauring while on the ground in Camp Djabal in Chad. In the call, Gabriel discusses the implementation of the first Human Rights Mobile Library and the challenges facing Darfuri refugees after being in camps nearly a decade.
STF Screens “The First Grader” at four local high schools
On Tuesday, November 1, all STF leaders representing the Santa Clarita Valley joined forces to host a screening of The First Grader, a feature film about an 84-year-old man who fought for his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education – even if it means sitting in a classroom with six-year-olds. This was STF’s first major student-led event series to raise awareness through STF’s Right to Education campain.
Additional screenings were held at Wildwood School on November 18 with over 120 attendees, at Sierra Canyon School on December 2 with over 80 attendees, and at Palisades Charter High School with over 350 attendees to create awareness of the Human Rights Mobile Library. All events concluded with a Q&A session with the film’s producer, Richard Harding.
STF Hosts Reception for HRW 2011 Defender Awardees
November 15, 2011: The Student Task Force joined the HRW California Committee South to celebrate the recipients of the 2011 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism. This year the award went to Sussan Tahmasebi, who raises broad public awareness about how discriminatory laws violate the human rights of women in Iran; and, Sister Consuelo Morales who defends victims from disappearances and abuses committed by security forces in Mexico.
Prior to the award ceremony, STF hosted a reception where fifty STF student leaders and teachers met directly with Ms. Tahmasebi and Sister Morales. STF was also greeted by HRW Emergencies Director, Peter Bouckaert, and researchers Faraz Sanei and Nik Steinberg from HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division and the America’s Division respectively.
STF Establishes the First Human Rights Mobile Library
November 15, 2011: This year, the Student Task Force is campaigning for the Right to Education. As part of this campaign, we are partnering with Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott from I-ACT to construct Human Rights Mobile Libraries for Darfuri refugees living in Chad. The libraries will emphasize human rights utilizing e-readers and online technologies to provide resources and curriculum. The first library was established in November 2011, and we aim to launch a second in the spring of 2012.
We invite you to visit the Human Rights Mobile Library blog to view the implementation of the first library and to submit questions and comments directly to Gabriel.
STF Leaders and International Scholars Train to Protect the Right to Education
September 10, 2011: Student Task Force leaders, teachers and international scholars from the Visiting Fulbright Program convened to launch STF’s 2011-12 school year and new campaign, the Right to Education. Guest speakers included Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott of i-Activism, who are partnering with STF students to create a Human Rights Mobile Library that will travel within Darfuri refugee camps in Chad. During the afternoon session, award-winning news anchor Linda Alvarez led a series of “speed pitching” exercises between STF leaders and Fulbright scholars to help students articulate and encourage others to become advocates for the right to education.
“Education is often seen as a matter of life and death in the Darfuri refugee camps,” said Gabriel Stauring. “Specifically, they [the refugees] want to learn English as they believe it is the way to converse with the rest of the world…and many youth risk their lives to go back into Darfur to pursue secondary and higher education.”
Although the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees mandates the right to a basic education for all children in accordance with Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, there are over 72 million primary-age children are denied this basic right today. STF’s goal for the 2011-12 school year is to explore and educate others on the barriers that deny children education internationally and locally such as: gender discrimination, poverty and hunger, conflict and war, disabilities, cultural and social divides, and the impact of HIV and AIDS.
One Valencia High School senior summarized her excitement saying she looks forward to another year of STF and the challenge, “to stand up for what is basic, what is human, and what is right.”
The workshop was co-sponsored by UCLA’s International Institute Visiting Fulbright Scholars.
Download the 2011 Binder (PDF) here.