Story by Hetal S., Orange County, IHL Action Campaign Leader
In ninth grade, I enrolled in the Exploring Humanitarian Law class at the American Red Cross Greater Long Beach Chapter, but unfortunately, did not grasp its importance. I did not delve deeply into International Services until a few years later. It was the IHL Action Campaign that I participated in as a Team Leader last year that truly made me realize the significance and exciting aspect of this line of service.
The IHL Action Campaign created by Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana consisted of an IHL-based gameshow, a pre-survey and post-survey to measure the impact of our campaign, a poster campaign to educate those not reached by the gameshow, and lunchtime activities. My team of ten youth volunteers decided upon a gameshow specifically because we believed that education disguised through a gameshow would be extremely engaging for the youth. We wanted to not only educate them, but spark their interest through a unique teaching method so that they would continue research into the important subject of International Humanitarian Law.
When the gameshow was hosted in the homeroom classes, even the generally uninterested students became extremely competitive and excited. Every time a question was asked, students would debate heatedly before choosing their final answer. When the question was answered correctly, shouts of joy would permeate through the classroom. When the question was answered incorrectly, my team members could feel the disappointment from the youth.
Yet, the true impact of our gameshow was seen when the youth in the classes would ask follow-up questions and join the American Red Cross club at their school to learn more about IHL. This showed that the gameshow not only temporarily raised their interest in the subject, but also influenced them to utilize their free time in pursuit of more knowledge about IHL. Hearing and seeing the power of our IHL Action Campaign truly made all of the work for the campaign worth it and will definitely influence my decision to participate more in International Services in my local chapter.
At the Greater Long Beach Chapter of the Red Cross, our youth International Services program is currently transforming to include more innovative methods to teach IHL. We are planning to hold IHL-related movie nights, more RAID Cross events, an International Conference, and even a gameshow night where people can compete through different gameshows for an ultimate prize. The IHL Action Campaign has showed me that the way a class is taught can greatly sway a person’s decision to participate in an event or project, and therefore, we plan on ensuring that all activities under International Services are fascinating and impactful in the future.
For more information on the work of the International Humanitarian Law program at the American Red Cross, and on International Humanitarian Law in general, please visit their blog, Humanity in the Midst of War.