Students in Anne Sharkey’s Global Citizenship class recently participated in a “Write for Rights” project in partnership with Amnesty International. The project, which is the organization’s largest annual human rights campaign, encourages people throughout the world to write letters to convince government officials to free people unjustly imprisoned and end other abuses.
“To advocate for another person’s human rights made me feel like I was doing something that would impact somebody else’s life for the better and that made me feel very good,” said student Delaney Cairns. “It made me happy that I had the chance to change something bigger than I am.”
The course is the semester-long introductory course to the Global Academy. It students an opportunity to learn more about the global community and an individual’s role within the global world and challenges students to consider what responsibility they have within their political, social, cultural, and eventual professional contexts to participate as global citizens.
“Participating in this class and the Global Academy has challenged me to look beyond our community, and learn about what is happening globally,” said student Emily Heflin. “Before this class, I did not know what was happening in other parts of the world, and I have started to realize these things more often after hearing about them, especially the ‘Write for Rights’ project.”
According to Sharkey, the project combines student research in learning about the stories of individuals and applying identified for the campaign by Amnesty International with writing, and critical thinking skills. It also has an effect of personalizing large global issues to make them relatable for students.
“Advocating for someone’s human rights made me feel more involved and worthy. By helping someone else achieve a goal they are striving for, it made me feel much more connected to others around the globe. It also makes me feel much more like a global citizen for getting involved and becoming aware of these issues. In addition, I feel more like I could make a change for once instead of just sitting on the sidelines and watching everything unfold,” said student Adelina Quaranta.
As part of the introductory class for the Global Academy, Sharkey said she hopes this project will also inspire students to continue engagement with global issues not just in but also outside of class.
“For me, it felt really good to advocate for another person’s human rights. Many things I do [are] based on myself, and to do a selfless act to help others in need brought a different happiness to me,” said student Huntar Vogt. “This project makes me want to help more people in different situations and do more selfless acts like this. Whether it is just volunteering at a shelter, or doing the same thing again, I think I want to do more of these things to better other peoples lives.”