Turn on the news any given night and you are bombarded with the realities of war. You hear how one country attacks another as you view the images of fierce fighting. Casualty counts are given and talk of soldiers becoming prisoners occur ever more frequently as the battle escalates.
In an effort to help high school and college students ages 14 to 24 better understand the realities of armed conflict, The American Red Cross has developed a program that addresses The Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law, core components of the global Red Cross network.
In this program, known as Raid Cross, young leaders come together to educate their peers about the rules of war and the importance of IHL. By taking on the roles of civilians, soldiers, prisoners and humanitarian workers during a war simulation, they are given a better understanding of how IHL rules governing armed conflict and war are meant to protect human life and dignity in the worst of circumstances.
In September, the State College-based Red Cross Mid-Central Pennsylvania Chapter became 1 of 18 chapters throughout the country to receive a grant allowing them to participate in the Raid Cross Program. As part of the grant, chapter executive Stephanie Fost, along with Red Cross intern Kristen Garrity, traveled to New York to participate in a train-the-trainer workshop. Now back in Pennsylvania, they have recruited and trained a group of youth leaders who are excited to bring the program to area schools and community groups.
The Raid Cross Program is designed to fit seamlessly into a variety of secondary and postsecondary courses, including history, international studies, political science, human rights, peace/conflict studies, anthropology, psychology/sociology, pre-law, military science and security studies. Engaging primary source materials, including news accounts, photos, videos, letters and hands-on activities, work together to connect students with current events. Students who participate benefit by improving their analytical skills as they explore different perspectives on the rules of conflict, the effect war has on human life and human dignity, and their personal connections to it.
The Raid Cross Program is brought to area schools and community groups free of charge. Those wishing to participate should contact Stephanie Fost at firstname.lastname@example.org or 237-3162.
Stephanie Fost is chapter executive at the Red Cross Mid-Central Pennsylvania Chapter.