Learning about International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is relevant, meaningful and useful for young people in all societies, regardless of the absence of war or conflict and
understanding our roles and what we can do as a citizen is a helpful tool. We currently have the highest percentage of younger generation (those born after 1980) that will shape the future; therefore helping them to understand their roles as a global citizen is paramount.
The American Red Cross helps the public, especially younger generations, to understand their world through international humanitarian law education, both in and out of classrooms. This year, the Cincinnati Chapter will join seven other chapters nationally to implement the IHL Peer Education Program for young people. The program will run from February 23, 2013, through the end of April 2013, and consists of three stages: Explore, Address, and Implement. The main training on February 23 and 24, 2013 will be led by Rachele Tardi, PhD, Senior Advisor for Peer Education from Washington, DC, who has a wide range of peer education experience with the British Red Cross.
The participants, Team Members (ages 13-17) and Team Mentors (ages 18-25), will be working to explore the importance of protecting the rights of people affected by war, address an IHL-related issue, and implement an action project on what they learned from the training. One team will be selected and sponsored to attend the first National Youth Conference in Washington, DC on June 1-2, 2013. The participants will also be able to use this experience to fulfill their service learning hours for school. The application deadline for this program is February 1, 2013.
One of the great emphases of this project will be role playing, which give young people a personal experience to understand an "abstract" concept such as International Humanitarian Law. Role playing helps to put an idea into a humanitarian perspective. It may be harder to understand an idea, but it's easier when we put a face into the story.
One day I am a shopkeeper in Bangkok, Thailand who risks losing business for protecting a victim of a street violence. Another day I am a Catholic factory worker who went to incredible lengths to save a Jewish stranger from the Nazis in Germany. The next, I am Grace Lorch, a white woman, who risked her life to escort Elizabeth Eckford through the mob in 1954 in front of Little Rock Central High School. Taking on these roles helps us understand the concept of a "bystander" in conflict and war situation.
International Humanitarian Law is not only relevant for those working in war situation, actually what happens in the world right now affects us locally. Jelaluddin Rumi, a 14th century Sufi poet said, “Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.” The decision is yours.
Dyah Miller serves as International Services Coordinator at the American Red Cross Cincinnati Chapter. Originally from Indonesia, she spent two years as a Rotary World Peace Fellow 2008-10 at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. To obtain more information about the IHL Peer Education program and applications for both Team Members and Team Mentors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 513 579 3023.