I can't measure how they changed, but I can tell you what I saw. I saw struggles with jumping to a solution before understanding the problem. I saw anger at the way things are. I saw stereotypes broken down. I saw passion, commitment and the dawning of comprehension. I heard ideas and saw projects that changed me (click here for the complete list of justice projects).
One project in particular was a video for Falling Whistles: A Campaign for Peace in the Congo. I had never heard of this organization, but one of my students had seen their video a month ago and when it came time to pick a project, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. The kids working on this project disappeared into a room for a day and a half and produced this video.
Project Justice: Falling Whistles from Kim Wilkens on Vimeo.
The first time they showed it to me, I was stunned - by their interpretation and by the stats they shared. The next day, I didn't believe it. 45,000 killed in a month? Biggest war of your generation? Are you sure? Yes, they were. I started researching online. There's not much to find. I went to fallingwhistles.com and they tell a compelling story, but was it really real? Even so, I wanted to buy a whistle to show my support for the students, but they were sold out. I happened to click on the Tour dates and noticed they would be in Richmond this past Sunday. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to find out more, so I went.
When I got there, I felt a little like a party crasher and also old. I met some of the interns and shared my story. I saw a large room filling up with high school students that were part of a human rights and history club. I heard Yves and Sean share their stories. They were compelling, frightening, engaging, inspiring, passionate and humbling. I bought a whistle and I changed a little more.
But now that I'm wearing the whistle, what do I say? My brain still can't cope with the reality - it's searching for other answers. There are precious few answers to be found along the information highway, but something is definitely not right in the Congo.
- "no humanitarian crisis generates so little attention per million corpses, or such a pathetic international response" - Nicholas Kristof (NYTimes)
- Congo's war without end (Globe)
- Smartphones Caught up in Congo War Controversy (CBS)
- Raped women used as pawns in Congo War (CNN)
- The US blinks, and children will suffer (Huffington Post)