High School Students Get a Taste of What it’s Like to Be a Refugee

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by Tommy Tran, North High School, Torrance

I didn’t have a significant amount of experience with the Red Cross before participating in the International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign. That’s why I’m grateful for the opportunity to be the co-team leader of this campaign, along with the current North High School American Red Cross Club President Melanie Nomiya.

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Uniquely created bracelets were sold by this IHL Action Campaign team to raise money for refugee relief through the ICRC

With a total of nine members, we managed to reach a total of  900 people through our campaign by making presentations to students at North High School, El Segundo High School, and the South Bay chapter of the Red Cross.

Our campaign was comprised of the following components: an audience feedback juxtaposition, a TedTalk anecdote by Joseph Kim who is a North Korean refugee in America, a powerpoint with basic information on international humanitarian law, and an action step to offer the participants an opportunity to help refugees.

During the audience feedback juxtaposition, we took the opinions of our high school audience on certain topics such as school and food and contrasted them with the opinions of refugees, utilizing information from an interview with a Bosnian refugee. We then gave a piece of bread to each person as a symbol of hope after watching the TedTalk about Joseph Kim, a refugee who originated from North Korea, and his journey to America, which included details about the struggles he faced along the way. His anecdote successfully reached the audience on an emotional level and offered the unique perspective of a refugee.

Joseph Kim, North Korean refugee highlighted in TedTalk video

Joseph Kim, North Korean refugee highlighted in TedTalk video

The powerpoint presentation defined refugees and explained how International Humanitarian Law assists refugees. Finally, the campaign included an action step where we fundraised by selling unique, hand-created bracelets. The money we collected was donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to help support refugee camps around the world.

Our audience at North High School particularly welcomed the IHL campaign with appreciation. They were shocked by the differences in responses between the refugees and themselves. Our campaign set in motion a change in the community and perspective of the school itself. People have become more compassionate, more grateful, and more mindful and this change began with our campaign.

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