Camp Darfur to teach students about genocide

Each tent will teach students about a different genocide. Each
tent has pictures, statistics and other information about the
specific genocide it represents.
Photo courtesy of i-Act

The term genocide can spark thoughts of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. USU Productions hopes to raise awareness for genocides past and present by hosting “Camp Darfur” today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Memorial Gardens lawn in front of the bookstore.

Camp Darfur is an interactive event that allows students to walk through a simulated refugee camp.

“Camp Darfur is an event that travels to different cities and universities,” said Denise Altounian, who organized the event and is a member of USU Productions. “Camp Darfur uses real refugee tents, and each tent is representative of a genocide.”

The event will have six tents and the genocides that will be represented are the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocides of Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.

The event’s goal is to put the current genocide into historical context by showing statistics and pictures of past genocides.

“The main goal of Camp Darfur is to raise awareness for the ongoing genocide,” Altounian said. “The event is meant to put the genocide into context by showing genocides of the past.”

Altounian got the idea to bring the event to campus after experiencing it in high school and hearing that it had never been in the Central Valley before.

“I wanted people to know about these kinds of things,” Altounian said. “People need to educate themselves. Things are happening in the world and we aren’t hearing about them. Genocides aren’t talked about enough outside of the Holocaust.”

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in the Butterfly Project. The goal of the Butterfly Project is to create 1.5 million handmade paper butterflies. USU Productions is taking part and will encourage students to participate. They will then send them to the Holocaust Museum Houston where they will be a part of an exhibit that is scheduled to open in Spring 2014. Each butterfly will represent a child killed during the Holocaust.

The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Communuty Engagement and Service Learning will host an advocacy booth at the event.  The booth will give students the opportunity to get involved. The booth will also show students ways to get involved  such as calling their elected officials and utilizing social media to spread awareness.

Speakers at the event will be Dr. Mathew Jendian, chair of the Sociology Department and whose family survived the Armenian Genocide. Lejla Trijic, a professor in the Department of English and a survivor of the Bosnian Genocide will also speak along with Michael Blackbull, former professor of American Indian Studies at Fresno City College.

Former Fresno State students Stephanie Stockdale, and Khoeun Chhan Baeza will also speak. Baeza’s family survived the Cambodian genocide. Dr. Jan Slagter, associate professor of women’s studies will discuss “Rape as the New Weapon” as well.

Organizations involved in planning the event are the Armenian Students Organization, Student Dietetic Association, Combodian Collegiate Association, and Richter Center Ambassadors.

Also involved are the USU Board of Directors, Center for Women and Culture, Black Law Students Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and USU Productions.

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