By: Ray Lapine, Northwest Region Volunteer
Cara Elzie, a college senior from Yakima, discovered her passion for the Red Cross barely two years ago. Since then she has immersed herself in a wide range of Red Cross activities and has become a member of the American Red Cross National Collegiate Assembly.
Closest to her heart is the American Red Cross' International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign, which empowers young people, ages 13-24, to learn about the international law that governs warfare.
“If they send out an email in my area that they need help, I'll pretty much volunteer for anything, but that's what I find the most interesting," she said.
Elzie took the initiative to organize campaign activities in the Yakima area. Young people who participate go into clubs, schools and other community events to educate the public about the topic... sometimes using methods that are a bit unorthodox. For example, they can use a dodge ball game to demonstrate some of the Law's principles. In the game, some of the players are combatants, some are not. If a player hits a non-combatant, they are penalized.
Elzie brought her interest in international law to the 9th National Youth Red Cross “Jumbara” in Indonesia this past July. She and four other young Red Crossers from the United States were invited to join with other young people, ranging from elementary school age through their twenties, from all around Indonesia for the conference.
The five spoke at the conference about the many ways American youth participate in Red Cross activities, specifically including the International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign.
In addition, Cara was part of a small group that helped young Indonesian Red Crossers draft a declaration of what they would like their national organization to do to promote youth involvement in the mission of the Indonesian Red Cross. They want their national organization to encourage young Indonesians to become leaders in developing programs and implementing them.
Cara and the other delegates from the United States also went to the American Embassy to talk with Indonesians who participate in the @america program: an embassy effort to educate Indonesians about America.
The experience made a big impression on Cara.
“Being able to connect with like-minded youth from all over the world and seeing the new generation of youth that are so dedicated to humanitarian work was the most impactful part for me," she said.