Interesting. Fascinating. Heart breaking. Shocking. Appalling. Depressing. Captivating. These adjectives only represent a handful of the emotions I felt during our first class meeting of the semester. I have always been a conscientious student, but I have never had a class or a topic hold my attention for a full two and a half hours and continue to hold my attention for days after. I have never taken a class like this that gives you so much room to grow and room to think. Classes are usually extremely rigid. They force you to think a certain way. But in the first 5 minutes, I knew this class was going to be different and I am so glad it is. My boyfriend picked me up after class and the second I got in the car I couldn’t stop telling him about everything I had just seen and learned. I proceeded to come home and tell my roommate all about it too. The next day on the phone I told my parents about it. After each encounter trying to explain to everyone else about what our class entails and all that we discussed on the first day, I felt myself becoming frustrated. No one really understands! I know that I’m definitely not an expert after one class period, but I also know that my eyes are certainly WIDE open. I could tell just by talking to other people that their eyes really aren’t open at all to this terrible but intriguing reality. Before our first class, I was just like everyone else. Clueless. The reactions I got from the other people were not what I wanted. It made me feel embarrassed that I used to be ignorant, unaware, and ill informed to something so important.
Our generation is different from past generations because we aren’t afraid to expose things that previous generations considered taboo. For instance, our grandparents would have never even thought twice about rendering the topic of birth control, or domestic violence, but today there are countless ads and commercials and even T.V shows that expose these topics frequently. While these “problematic” topics here in the U.S. don’t even begin to compare to genocide, I plan on using this class as an outlet to educate myself on an issue that everyone else is scared to face. By educating myself, I can be an advocate and start the “talk” about genocide which is an issue that truly deserves recognition. Recognition will just be the first step, because the termination of genocide and ultimately change is what I hope to be a part of.
In class we touched on the fact that our society really only accepts and remorse’s over one genocide in particular, which is that of the Holocaust. Literally, before our first class, again, I was a part of our society who is unaware of how much more genocide exists beyond the Holocaust. And maybe not everyone in our society is unaware. Maybe some people know. But they definitely don’t talk about it. And talk is what I think we need to change it.
The documentary that we watched toward the end of class last week really struck a few different chords with me. It made me happy to see a chosen few being taken to the U.S. for a better life, but it was sad to see those lists of names being stapled to the board all of the Sudanese boys huddled around praying that their name was on there. They all deserve a better life. But is our way of life here in the U.S. really a better life for them? I’ve been thinking about that documentary all week because I think we all agreed that some parts, watching them figure out our world was humorous, but on the other hand, is that actually what they want? Our definition of a good life may not be the same as theirs.
My opinion on studying genocide thus far is that it’s one of those issues that we are going to have to take small steps with to really digest all that it is and all that it comes with. A heavy topic or not, I am thrilled to be jumping into this with such a genuine and awesome group of people. I can already tell that we are going to absorb all of the positivity and passion that Aaron has to really make a difference not only this semester but in every chance we get in the future.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle
~ * Jami