Published: April 12, 2012
What started as an experiment in Assistant Professor Denis Rey’s Intro to Peace Studies class has become a bit of a tradition.
Throughout the course of the semester, students focus on themes like terrorism, human rights, nuclear proliferation and international law. The class culminates in conducting a peace rally, now permanent to the syllabus, to bring awareness to a topic of the students’ choosing.
“It gives them a sense of being politically active and being civilly minded,” said Rey. “It also gives them the skills in organizing and planning political rallies and implementing these plans so they get a hands-on experience.”
In addition, students gain a better understanding of international current events.
“It gets them more aware of what’s going on in their own community as well as the world,” said Rey. “It makes them better global citizens.”
This semester the students have decided to rally against the use of child soldiers. Their peace rally will be April 17 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Vaughn Courtyard and will include speakers from the Tampa Human Rights Council, testimonials of child soldiers from around the globe read by class members, tie-dying of T-shirts in the name of peace and a petition drive to encourage U.S. policy makers to take action on the issue of using child soldiers.
“As students and young adults we should relate to these children and try to have empathy for their situation,” said Nicholas Sauvan ’14, a government and world affairs major. “We must place ourselves in their shoes and try to imagine how horrible living with that fear would be.”
The rally will also include a “Dunk Kony” dunk tank fundraiser, a reference to the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony, known to use child soldiers in his Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.
“These are antagonizing situations and human rights violations all around, and paying attention to these compelling issues represents a starting point for people to cooperate for the greater good, regardless of the issue’s proximity to UT,” said Kristine Zambito ’14, government and world affairs major.
“UT students and students around the world are the ones who will determine the future,” Sauvan said. “We will be the policy makers and the aid workers and the armed forces and the educators who are able to make a difference. Awareness is the key component to being able to make a positive difference instead of continuing the cycle.”
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