Written by Charlotte Miller of Mission San Jose High School.
Genocide Awareness Week could easily have been a missed opportunity. At my school, there are over 100 clubs, and competing for student’s attention, membership, and (of course) money, makes everyone pretty secretive about
what they’re planning. Collaboration is highly unlikely, but surprisingly, another organization was very cooperative with the planning of Genocide Awareness Week.
The Ethnic Race Relations Committee is a district-wide mandatory club that focuses on celebrating different cultures. They host a Genocide Awareness Week annually, and commemorate genocides past. It has been difficult collaborating with other organizations in the past, and we were nervous that we would not be able to assist the ERRC on Genocide Awareness Week. When I went to the ERRC Monday meeting, I asked if we could be a partner in the planning the week’s events. Fortunately, it went better than I could have imagined. Everyone was open to new ideas and the brainstorming was amazing. We settled on focusing on present genocides, instead of those that were in the past, which ERRC had done in previous years.
The main event of our week was something called a “hand wall.” People stamped their hand print and then signed their name to show that they supported S. Con. Res. 71. We filled up two huge scrolls of paper, and sent them in to Barbara Boxer, urging her to co-sponsor the bill. Senator Boxer announced about a week after we sent it in that she was going to support S. Con. Res. 71. We still don’t know if we had anything to do with it, or if she even saw our hand prints before making her decision, but I like to think that she did. The excitement in my chapter after that was contagious. We were really making a difference! It was an amazing feeling.
I know that everyone is trying to topple one another right now. How can we not, with college decisions looming on the horizon? We fall into this well of selfishness, and, I hate to admit it, forget what is really important. We have to think about why we are really doing this, why we wanted to be part of STAND in the first place. We want to be the last generation that sees the effects of genocide. And that isn’t going to happen if we don’t extend a hand, in politics, in school, even on the bus, and help each other out.
Mission San Jose High School STAND Chapter Facebook Group: