In a generation of astounding technological and communication advancements, an abundance of global issues go mostly unnoticed.
Moved by the Human Experience reading of Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” Professor of Environmental Studies Noëlle Boucquey and Professor of Human Development Paige Dickinson wanted to share an idea for an activity with the other Human Experience faculty that would give these issues some attention.
This activity split Human Experience classes into groups to research various events around the world which have led to mass genocide. The groups then connected these occurrences to events and themes in “Night.”
“We exist in our own bubbles, even online . . . Often times, we fail to see the depth of other people’s experiences even within our own country, let alone around the world,” Boucquey said.
First-year Savannah Core focused on the Rohingya people in Myanmar, displacement and unrest in the Congo, Uyghur re-education camps in China and starvation in Yemen. It’s not surprising that nearly the entire class had not heard of any of these events, but this should not be the norm.
“I don’t have a very steady news source, as a college student,” Core said. “Even though we still get very hot important topics in college...I don’t think we’re surrounded by enough reliable news sources without having to seek them out with significant effort.”
It’s also difficult for people to educate themselves on these topics because they go to the same news sources. If they don’t read from sources that report on global events or humanitarian news, readers won’t be aware of it.
“Because we are bombarded with bad news on a daily basis, we can become desensitized,” Boucquey said. “Reading books like ‘Night,’ from someone’s personal perspective, can help us to have more empathy for people today, as well as in the past.”
Learning about these issues can be as simple as following sources that report on global events, like the National Public Radio (NPR). One could also look into non-profit organizations that work toward helping people in those specific areas.
Even for those that are aware of what goes on around the world, it can sometimes be difficult for people to willingly read such upsetting news.
“I think that sometimes we have to face things that upset us,” Boucquey said. “I understand that it can feel like we don’t have a lot of power to do something about it. And that feeling can be frustrating.”
While it is unsettling, it’s our duty as global citizens to pay attention and educate others on these issues to ensure that atrocities are not allowed to occur and then fade into the shadows of history.
Wiesel wrote an incredibly moving note in his novel, which inspired Boucquey and Dickinson’s activity:
“When we speak of this era of evil and darkness, so close and yet so distant, ‘responsibility’ is the key word. The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future.”