Last Tuesday was my first seminar-styled class and as the only freshman surrounded by students who are close to graduating I was intimidated. As we sunk into discussion about our readings that introduced us to the topic of genocide I remembered why I wanted to take this class.
My father worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and through that my family lived in Kenya and Sudan (although I was a baby when all of this happened). That was when we met our closest family friends. Since I’m the youngest, I always felt out of place during dinner parties and barbecues when the adults got into politics and Foreign Service discussions. I was never exposed to other cultures besides my mom’s Filipino side of the family. But even then, I still lived in Northern Virginia, in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Most of my life focused on repetitive years of learning about American history and house league soccer tournaments.
At those get-togethers with our family friends, I ended up feeling helpless to join in on the conversations because it seemed like there were too many issues going on in the world and how could a fifteen year old girl from Sterling, VA do anything about that. I’d like to thank the program Invisible Children which introduced me to young humanists that can make a difference. I think Invisible Children is a brilliant program that targets young adults and encourages them to get involved with world issues, specifically the atrocities in the Congo.
I am finally seeing the importance in the topic genocide because it continues to be a problem and the world does not seem to react quickly enough to stop it. It’s unfortunate that I only learned about the Holocaust throughout my education career since seventh grade, yet nothing about Darfur or Rwanda.
A reading for class (Found in Aaron’s previous post) by John Deng Langbany, a refugee from Sudan, tells his story of his journey of survival. He depicted it in such a casual tone for example:
“I remember how the elders had shown us how to protect ourselves, so I covered myself with a person who was dead”
It was said in class (don’t remember who said it, still tryna remember names!) that our elders, as Americans, tell us to look both ways before we cross the street, although, in Sudan there are children who are told to hide under a dead body to avoid being killed. It’s incredibly frustrating how such violence is ignored by other humans, even Nations, because they’re seen as “their own issue”. There are powerful governments with powerful militaries yet the argument against state sovereignty interference exists for political reasons. I have yet to fathom the fact that there are too many complications that prevent the stopping of such atrocities.
So this semester I hope to gain full knowledge of recent genocides with the possible ways of preventing them from occurring in the future. I plan to confront the issues that I previously did not understand along with other global affairs because things can definitely be done to change the world’s response to genocide, even just talking about it.
I had some intense daydreams today and one of them was about how genocides can occur even in the most “developed” countries such as the U.S. I’m referring to the Native Americans. And it’s ironic that I thought about that today since its Martin Luther King Day. This just brings me more frustration that it took hundreds of years for African Americans to get equal rights and respect as human beings.