A couple weeks ago a teacher introduced me to the Invisible Children organization. She said that she would like to bring them to our school to raise awareness of current global events and humanitarian organizations. Despite considerable consternation on her part due to a recent Youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc), I encouraged the event. They came on April 18th and 19th and spoke to our Social Studies classes. It ended up being a timely current event as the next day Invisible Children held their “Cover the Night” event.
Invisible Children is a controversial, humanitarian organization whose goal is to arrest the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony. Over the past 25 years, the LRA has committed unspeakable atrocities in central Africa, mainly Uganda and currently in the Congo. While weakened considerably, the LRA is still active and Joseph Kony is still a wanted man.
I say ‘controversial’ because what Invisible Children present is pure propaganda. Clearly, the stories found in the above Youtube link pull at your heart-strings. Their goal is to influence the United States and other countries around the world to enter into Central Africa and arrest one man and disrupt the LRA.
The Invisible Children presentation intrigued me in several ways. First, the presentation was gripping and compelling. Many students came away with fervor to bring Kony to justice. While this seems to be a worthy cause, some are opposed to this organization (we will discuss this in our first class in 709). Several students chose not to participate in the presentation. Some parents asked why we would have such an organization come into our school. This question led me to ask myself, what sort of information is worthy of bringing into a school? Surely, not every humanitarian group could or should be brought into a public school. Which ones should we bring in? How do leaders chose which groups should come into our schools and which we should turn away?
I strongly believe that educators need to introduce current events and humanitarian efforts to students. We should encourage awareness of issues that may not necessarily affect us and are many miles away. Sometime that means that we need to take risks. Having Invisible Children come one day before their big “Cover the Night” event was a huge risk. But the result outweighed the risk as many students came away with a little more empathy and compassion for those whom they may never meet. More importantly, maybe they came away with an idea that they could make a difference in this world.