Sunday, April 10, 2011

So helpless..

So I teach Human Geography to freshman and I'm still learning a lot as the year progresses...last semester if they asked the capital of this or that country or needed clarification on where something is my response was always, "look it up" (works like a charm:)). Now I actually DO know where most of the things are and can help them as needs be, but my focus in learning has shifted to other areas.

I love reading and I think the students will benefit from a book report. So I started investigating good Geography books at their reading level and made a little list for them to choose from. I've read most of the books on their list (things like 3 Cups of Tea, Kite Runner, 1,000 Splendid Sons, Poisonwood Bible, etc.) but there were a few that came with high recommendations that I've never read...hence my current quest. I read all of Left Behind, a book about a woman who survives the Rwandan genocide in a bathroom, on Friday night and I'm about to finish A Long Way Gone, about a boy soldier and his experiences in Sierra Leone. I've also started to put a dent in three other similar books, while reading And Still We Rise, a book about kids from inner-cities that still pursue higher education.

These books are phenomenally captivating and interesting but yet I read them feeling so...helpless. I feel like I fit the description of the Americans that are described in Hotel Rwanda as seeing footage of the genocide, saying "that's horrible" and go on eating their dinner. What can I do?? We watch current events in my class about the destruction in Japan and that awful state of the people in Haiti still, yet I don't offer any solutions to the problems and we go on with whatever it is we're doing.

I feel like I have 200 students at my disposal and could have them help in some way, but I don't know how. I HATE fundraising, with a passion, and don't want to collect money from people in any way. Is there any other way to assist people in need? Sometimes I wish I were a doctor or somebody with a very obvious "skill" so I could easily offer aid to those who need it. I also don't think that the best way to help struggling nations is to go visit them and patch things up for them. Again, I have no idea how to help the less fortunate in a way that seems appropriate. Does anyone have any good suggestions? There are like a million bijillion NGOs out there that all seem to be doing good in some minor way but again, I can't decide if I agree with the way they do things and instead do nothing.

I'm experiencing some pretty major cognitive dissonance because of this.....hmmm...


  1. Wendy how fun to have a blog. I will have check back again. You know the youth are amazing!!! Why not ask them these same questions. And see what they can up with as a group. There are so many kids out in the world who have great idea and yet are never heard from. Just a thought.

  2. Great minds think alike. As I was reading your questions I thought...why not ask the students? If you want them to help then get their ideas. Get ideas from all your classes and then vote on the best one. I know one thing one of Miikael's teachers did was required service hours. It had to be approved and everyone in the class had to do like 10 hours for the semester. He then had to write a short paper about what he did. Good luck. If you have them do service hours ask them to take pictures and then you can make a powerpoint or something at the end of the semester to show them, so they can see the difference they made. 10 hours each is not a lot but when 200 students do 10 hours each then many people are helped. I know you will come up with something great.