Cornerstone Prep School students in Venice recently learned about the continuing violence in the Darfur region of the Republic of the Sudan, Africa and visited “Camp Darfur,” a mock refugee camp created by Gabriel Stauring.

Cornerstone’s middle school students were led through the camp by members of Human Rights Watch’s Student Task Force, comprised of high school students from Wildwood School, Crossroads School and Venice High School.

The students in the task force spent the last two years working on an advocacy campaign about Darfur and have hosted Camp Darfur at their schools.

Their knowledge of human rights violations in Darfur has increased thanks to a program called Ambassadors for Darfur, which takes these students to different venues from other schools to meetings with elected officials and allows them to increase awareness.

Cornerstone students began Camp Darfur with an introduction to genocide, which involved speeches by Selma and Alfred Benjamin, who talked about their experiences surviving the Holocaust in Germany and their eventual flight to safety in England.

After learning about this case of genocide, Cornerstone students acquainted themselves with what organizers described as the lesser-known ethnic cleansing campaign currently under way in Darfur.

Student Task Force docents taught Cornerstone students about Darfur in three tents, with each tent focusing on the history of the Darfur crisis, how people get food and water in the refugee camps and how education is delivered in the camps.

In a fourth tent, docents asked the Cornerstone students to share what they had learned, provided Darfuri testimonies for the middle-schoolers to read and suggested actions that can be taken to bring protection to Darfuris.

Suggestions ranged from calling the White House and starting letter-writing campaigns to completing Darfur school projects and talking to family and friends about what is happening in Darfur.

Organizers of Camp Darfur and Cornerstone school officials hope to continue working with integrating human rights into the Cornerstone curriculum.

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