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A Reflection on the 2012 HRGS Experience

Posted on 06/12/2012 @ 08:00 PM

Jewish teenagers sitting around a room talking about the Holocaust, sad but typical. Truth be told that the instance I am describing is anything but typical. To start the people present have come from all over, from DC to Florida, and Pennsylvania, to England. We're a small group of less than 30 teens, but the lack of size is made up for with an unexpected amount of sincerity and devotion to the matters at hand.

While the Holocaust was talked about and the students did take a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit visited was that of later genocides. For children raised in the mindset that atrocities do happen, and that we must remember and say “never again.” It was refreshing, but also devastating to see how never again reoccurred in places like Rwanda, Sudan, and Bosnia.

Going to the Capitol, lobbying with congressmen, participating in a congressional simulation, and being lectured on the politics of the United Nations, was one of the most disheartening, yet inspiring experiences. It proved that as the youth of the world, action is desperately needed. For some this might make the situation seem hopeless, but after listening to speakers on human trafficking, modern slavery, and child soldiers, it felt like to not care or want to help was impossible.

Throughout the course of the summit information was presented, but there was never a “right answer” given, allowing everyone to come to their own conclusion. Regardless of how we each identified politically we were all able to reach a middle ground while lobbying on Capitol Hill (something American’s politicians constantly fail to do).

For teenagers false advertising and cliched promotions are insufferable, but participating in the BBYO Human Rights and Genocide Conference helped prove to its participants that living in a country there are certain liberties guaranteed that many will never have, and that people must fight for what they believe in.

-Ashira Naftali-Greer, 2012 HRGS Participant

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