Amnesty hosts freshman discussions

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Northwood’s Amnesty International club held its annual freshman discussions on Oct. 13 and 16 to raise awareness of human rights.

Hosted by volunteers from Amnesty International, these discussions focused on informing freshmen about the seriousness of human rights violations around the world.

“Since human rights are not discussed very often at school, many take them for granted,” freshman Alex Chang said. “I thought the discussions reminded us of the relevancy of these rights in the present.”

An environment is created through small group discussions where students are able to formulate and voice their own opinions concerning relevant topics: free speech, health care, immigration, death penalty, transgender rights and disagreements over kneeling during the National Anthem.

“I think it’s important because everyone once in awhile, everybody needs to be reminded of what’s important as society is changing,” freshman Ananya Sundararajan said. “And often, these rights are overlooked and many people are unaware of them.”

The discussions took place during all freshman history classes in conjunction with their unit on Enlightenment ideals. Before the discussions, students were assigned homework relating to the history of human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to provide context for the discussions.

“The discussions relate what we’re trying to teach about the Enlightenment to current times because one of the big things that students have a problem with history is that it is hard to relate what is going on back then to what’s going on now,” Humanities 9 History teacher Vadim Rubin said.

These discussions also give an opportunity for students to express their own opinions and draw connections between the past, present and future.

“Students are exposed to how the idea of rights and the various dimensions of them relate to the current world,” Rubin said. “By doing so, it also gives them a good opportunity to work with their fellow students. They get to have this discussion with the peers around them and it is a more intimate and smaller group conversation where they participate and really kind of think through these issues.”

Amnesty International hopes to continue these discussions next year when upperclassmen and future sophomores will have the opportunity to lead these groups.