Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity class presents enriching symposiums

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  In the learning center on Monday morning, a white board was propped up reading “PRO LIFE:” and then underneath it, “PRO CHOICE:,” with space available for students to write tally marks under their side. The board was a part of senior Kenzie Gorham’s symposium for Mr. Isshak’s Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity class.

  Gorham chose to focus on abortion for her project. “I wanted to show how Oregon, which is the state with the best reproductive rights, and El Salvador, with the world’s strictest abortion laws, differ in how the governments view women’s bodies.” The goal behind her pro-life/pro-choice poll was to survey the opinions of Eastern students, and to see if students would even be brave enough to write their view on a white board for everyone to see.

  Gorham said she has always been very pro-choice, so doing abortion for her symposium made sense because she already knew a lot. She also just wanted to educate herself on the other side of the argument to see how other places view abortion.

  “I think it’s inhumane how you can be jailed for having a miscarriage or stillbirth, and that even in cases of rape or incest or fetal impairment, they’ll still make you have a kid.”

  In regards to southern America’s new extreme abortion bills, Gorham says that “Alabama’s abortion laws are almost comparable to El Salvador’s, and I don’t think that’s okay at all.”

  Across the room, Maddie Roberts presented a symposium on the North Korean government, focusing on prison camps.

“Their government is communist and totalitarian, which means that the government controls all the citizens.”    Everything citizens see in the media is government-produced and manufactured. “If anyone is caught criticizing the government, they are immediately sent to a prison camp, regardless of whether it’s true or not,” Roberts says.

  In prison camps, there’s forced labor and they receive little food- some eat dried cabbage leaves or rats. Prisoners are tortured, having to fill up buckets with their own sweat. If they pass out, prison guards say they are faking and make them start all over again.

  One man who survived Auschwitz even claimed that the conditions of the North Korean prison camps are worse than what he ever went through.

  Roberts picked to research North Korea because she knew very little, but wanted to learn more. She found the prison camps particularly interesting.

  Jordan Ceffarati took a similar route and talked about the psychology behind committing war crimes during the Vietnam War. Like Maddie, she didn’t know much about her topic prior to research, but she learned about the excessive amount of war crimes committed and that most were a result of soldiers’ rage taking over.

  Ceffarati included a quote from a Vietnam war veteran who said, “I decided at that point I would kill anyone I could. You know, knowing whether they were innocent or not. Just to make sure I wouldn’t get killed. That was my philosophy. Like, if I’d go into a village and have to kill a hundred people just to make sure there was no one there to shoot me when I walked out, that’s what I did.” This quote detailed the mindset of many soldiers.

  Ceffarati chose to cover the war crimes for her symposium as she felt it needed to be addressed, since she believes there is so much denial in America today about the Vietnam War.