I’m back with another Maymester interview! My friend Lauren took a class that involved going to New York City for a week with classmates and professors to learn about human rights. Here’s what she told me about it.
1. Where did you go and what kind of things did you do there?
I went to New York City with seven other Ohio State students and three professors to study human rights. While there, we traveled to different human rights monuments and museums such as the African Burial Grounds, Ground Zero, and the Stonewall Inn. We also had the opportunity to talk to someone from Witness, an NGO that instructs individuals on citizen journalism and how to record crimes in a way that will be helpful to investigators. The Human Rights Watch Film Festival was also going on the week that we were there and every night we were able to watch films such as City of Ghosts, which provided insight into the horrors going on in Raqqa, Syria, and The Grown Ups, which gave viewers a look into the lives of individuals with Down Syndrome in Chile.
2. How did traveling for a class influence what you learned in the class?
Traveling for the class brought a reality to everything we learned about. It’s one thing to listen to a lecture about the events of 9/11 but it’s an entirely different experience to be confronted with video footage, artifacts and first hand accounts of what individuals experienced that day. This trip in particular brought to light human rights issues I was not previously aware of. I had no idea that the African Burial Group existed and that the African community in New York City had to fight tooth and nail to allow their ancestors to remain in their final resting place. I was also uneducated on the events unfolding in Syria. I knew that something was happening but no one was talking about it. The film City of Ghosts and the panel discussion that followed gave everyone in the theater a better understanding of the horrors Syrians, and those living in Raqqa in particular, are facing on a daily basis.
3. What was your favorite part of the trip?
My favorite part of this trip were the discussions that would follow our visits to a human rights memorial or that would follow our viewing of a film. Our backgrounds were so different from each other that we created a very diverse group of people who all had thoughts and opinions on whatever the topic of discussion was. Each of us had different areas of interest and it was fun to discover who was most passionate about what over the course of the week.
4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a class like this?
I would definitely recommend taking a class like this! In just a week, I was exposed to so many new ideas, new people, and new ways of thinking. It was one of the most enjoyable classes I have taken at Ohio State and the closest I have felt to my classmates. Since there were only eight of us in the class, we were able to get to know each other over the course of the week and we’re all planning to work on a project related to the class together in the spring.
All of the students and professors on Lauren’s trip (photo credit: Lauren)