Students from Pioneer and Whittier High Schools recently completed a nine-week program on human rights and social responsibility organized by the Center for Engagement with Communities (CEC) and sponsored by the Amy Biehl Foundation. The project culminated in a student conference held last Saturday on the College campus.
The high school participants attended workshops and worked alongside Whittier College student mentors who guided them in developing and executing research projects and presentations.
In addition to working with the high schoolers, mentors Jafet Diego ’15, Faith Govan ’14, Kenneth Jimenez ’15, Kelcey Negus ’17, and Joanne Nguyen ’17 and alumna Amber Orozco ’13 participated in the development of the workshop curriculum along with CEC Associate Director David Sarabia, who led the project.
“Our team of talented and committed Whittier College students worked together, with the supportive teachers and administrators at Whittier and Pioneer high schools, to create an educational experience dedicated to helping high school students develop their critical awareness about compelling human rights and social challenges, and their sense of responsibility for addressing ethical issues that align with their personal values,” said Sarabia. “[Moreover] we have sought to prepare our high school students for both responsible citizenship and college-level thinking and research.”
Students selected topics ranging from human trafficking, animal rights, gender inequity, domestic violence, inclusion of students with learning disabilities, bullying, drug addiction, and worldwide hunger.
Alumna Linda Biehl ’65 spoke at the conference providing students with words of wisdom and inspiration. Biehl, and her late husband Peter, co-founded the Amy Biehl Foundation to honor their daughter, who was killed in 1993 during the post-apartheid period in South Africa while working to promote social justice.
Overall, the Amy Biehl Foundation Project seeks to give high school students a basis in understanding global approaches to human rights with an emphasis placed on the importance of education and safety for women and girls, which represents one of the world’s compelling human rights challenges of this century.
“Ultimately, the goal of the project is to facilitate the emergence of the next generation of human rights defenders, culturally-literate thinkers, and above all – active global citizens,” added Sarabia.