Having El Fadel Arbab come speak at our school was an amazing experience, and undoubtedly the best thing our STAND chapter has done this year thus far. I became aware of El Fadel, a Darfur genocide survivor, after a message that STAND sent out listing guest speakers. After emailing him I found out that he would be available to speak the day before our February break- perfect because many teachers did not have a new lesson planned. He was already in New Haven at the time, so our chapter didn’t have to do any fundraising to have him speak.
The next step was alerting teachers that he would be coming. My adviser, Mr. Cehovksy, and I sent out a mass email to all faculty detailing when El Fadel would come, what periods he would be available, his bio and his past speaking experiences. Around eight classes over the span of two class periods (forty minutes each) signed up to attend.
I also got in contact with our local paper, the Fairfield Minuteman. They expressed interest in El Fadel speaking and arranged a phone interview with me. A reporter also came the day of the event to conduct an interview with El Fadel himself. The piece is compellingly written and can be found here: http://www.minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2011/02/23/fairfield/news/doc4d6535f28f08f619770458.txt
When the day of the event came, I had major butterflies. I was afraid I would get lost picking El Fadel up, classes wouldn’t show up to see him, or the projector wouldn’t work. Of course, all of this was out of my hands. In the end, I had nothing to worry about. Aside from some minor technical difficulty, everything went perfectly. Some parents and faculty even came to listen. El Fadel spoke emotionally while providing a wealth of information, and even put in some extremely kind words for STAND. By the end of the presentations our chapter had two new, dedicated members.
Our goal for having a guest speaker was to inform people about the genocide in Darfur. Many, before hearing El Fadel, had no idea it was still going on. The attendees were genuinely interested, many staying after to have their personal questions answered. El Fadel sparked an interest in people to follow genocide worldwide more avidly that day. In turn, he helped further STAND’s mission to eradicate genocide.
Written by Jillian Richardson, Fairfield STAND President