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April 05, 2007 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-04-05

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WBHS students Rachel Hines, Dana O'Neill and Sammy Dines were
instrumental in planning the Darfur event.

Making A Difference

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A ri! 5 2007


funds to aid genocide victims in Darfur.

Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor

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1 year@$56

WBHS students raise awareness and


hen West Bloomfield High
School offered a new
course last fall — the
sociology of genocide — no one knew
it also would teach students to become
human rights activists.
The more students learned about the
Holocaust and genocides in Armenia,
Rwanda and Darfur, the more deter-
mined they were to make a difference.
Out of their passion came "Mending
a Broken Promise: Darfur the 21st-cen-
tury Genocide,' an event on March 21
that drew 650 people to the high school
to listen to poignant speakers and raise
funds to help the victims of Darfur.
Learning and activism were key ele-
ments running through the event that
included student-designed displays
offering information about genocide; an
"empty bowls" project where students
sold ceramic bowls they'd made to raise
money to buy solar cookers in Dafur
and also to help feed the hungry locally;
more fundraising through the sale of
student-designed T-shirts, carabiners
and rubber bracelets; and petitions to
sign that would be sent to politicians to
influence their actions.
More than $10,000 was raised
through student efforts, with the major-
ity of the funds going to the American
Jewish World Services: Sudan Direct
Relief Fund. Funds from the empty
bowls project benefited the Jewish
World Watch: Solar Cooker Project and
Gleaners Community Food Bank of
Southeastern Oakland County.
Speakers included Rene Lichtman of
West Bloomfield, a Holocaust survivor

Carabiners and bracelets were sold

to raise funds.

who had been a hidden child; Thomas
Kamilindi, a Rwandan who survived
genocide at the Hotel Rwanda; and
Sulimon Giddo, the Sudanese CEO of
Darfur peace and development.
"Each speaker brought their own
unique experience to the event and that
made us realize that this is a human
issue that affects every one of us',' said
WBHS student Dana O'Neill.
Many of the students came to under-
stand the dire conditions in Darfur
because of the new class initiated by
teacher Mara Hoffert.
"I realized this class alone wouldn't
afford me an opportunity to act',' said
senior Allison Shipper. "Together with
a bunch of other students, we knew
we could make a difference and we are
proud that we did"
Hoffert says she was impressed by
her students' efforts. "People always
talk about making a difference and
these students made that difference,'
she said. "Their dedication to this cause
affected people from across Michigan.
"The support from each and every
person my students reached out to was
unwavering. I am proud to be a mem-
ber of this community where people
understand their place in a global con-
text and care to act." .7

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