By Katie Ratzan Peeler (Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008)
Know. Inaction often stems from ignorance of the problem. Most student leaders tell me that they do not know where to start with organizing Darfur-related events because they do not feel that they know enough about what is going on there themselves.
If you are at a university, there is a speaker somewhere within a five-mile radius who could give a great talk about the intricacies and history of the conflict in Sudan. A great way to start off a week of action is with a prominent speaker explaining just what is going on, who the key players are and what is currently being done (or not being done) by parties such as the United States, the United Nations and the African Union.
Great speakers can be found at your respective ethics and philosophy departments, political science departments, African Studies departments, sociology, anthropology and international relations departments. Search the faculty of those areas and see who might fit the bill. Write a formal email inviting the person to speak.
Need suggestions on how to invite them? Just let us know, and we’d be more than happy to help you draft a letter. If you are comfortable speaking about current events in Darfur, but do not have a PowerPoint set up with maps, figures, etc., let us know and we can supply you with that as well. All you need to do then is reserve a room at your school and advertise the talk via email, posters and pre-class announcements.
Last year at Dartmouth, we had a student speaker, and we brought in a professional speaker from outside the community, Karen Hirschfield of PHR. For the student talk, Crandall researched the basic facts about Darfur and then created a short seven-slide PowerPoint to accompany his talk (let us know if you’d like a copy). After giving his fifteen-minute easy-to-follow presentation of the conflict in Sudan, we showed a film about Darfur, which lead to a great discussion amongst the audience members. Karen’s talk was then aimed at educating not just local students but also members of the greater Dartmouth and Hanover communities. People from all disciplines and backgrounds came to the talk and listened to Karen explain exactly where the conflict stood at that point in time and what was on the horizon.
Between Crandall’s historical talk and Karen’s up-to-the-minute analysis of current events in Darfur, we were able to educate a wide variety of people on what was going on.