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Voices Around the WorldProviding a Platform for Human Rights
Written by Rebecca Kim | Published. 2020.12.01 15:41 | Count : 274

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Muslim concentration camps in Uyghur, and even the unequal access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights have become the center of global conversations. In what ways could we help incite discussions on human rights issues? How should we provide a platform for students to give voice to these issues? My partner and I sought to address these questions through our website, The Student Association for Human rights.

The project initially started in the summer of 2019. As two students who wanted to advocate for human rights, we were faced with a daunting task. Human rights consist of such a broad field of issues that vary across different regional and religious backgrounds that it was near impossible to tackle human rights as a whole. We wondered how we could bring these diverse facets of human rights and unique perspectives from different backgrounds to light. Our answer was an organization composed of leaders from different countries who work in different fields of human rights— offering global student perspectives on local human rights issues. The mission for this website was twofold: first, to provide a platform for students around the world to share their unique perspectives on human rights issues and second, show how students could directly contribute to the human rights cause other than just donating to organizations. 

[A photo of co-Founders' first meeting to create the Student Association
for Human Rights website. Photo Credit: Author]

To these aims, my partner and I worked to recruit students around the world who were leading their own clubs targeted towards human rights issues. Currently, we have student leaders from seven clubs, five schools, and three countries. Through overseas events such as Hugh O'Brien World Leadership Conference, APAC (Asia Pacific Activities Conference) Fine Arts Events, and AMIS (Association for Music in International School) events, we were able to form relationships with many students around the world that were fundamental to recruiting members for our project. 

Our team of student leaders maintain a consistent blog cycle to share their opinions on local human rights issues through our website. For instance, one member from Korea wrote about human trafficking in the fashion industry, while another member from the United States provided an insider's view of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the role of youth in the movement. We also keep a blog of fun fair-trade food recipes, skincare routines, and other ways students can practice becoming ethical consumers.

Another way we approach our mission statement is through podcast or video interview series with guest speakers from members of our community— from classmates to global activists. For one of our podcast projects #FreedomStories, we interviewed a range of human rights activists from Director Eddie Byun of the film, Save my Seoul, which focuses on exposing the underground red light districts of Seoul to Ms. Jihyun Gim, a member of Green Environment Youth Korea, a climate change activism group. These interviews gave me insights into how close human trafficking is to us in our daily lives and how climate change is truly a human rights threat in all aspects- our right to property, health, and happiness. 

We initially faced many challenges with setting up the club's logistics and launching it, especially as our members were spread across different time zones, making communication difficult. However, through methods such as creating a shared google calendar and an Instagram group chat, we established efficient means of communication. Although we launched the website earlier this year, we have yet to gather a large readership following. As we continue activities for the website, we hope to increase website traffic so that more people can view our blogs and projects. 

[Photo of the award received from Korea Educational Association
for Empowerment of Software. Photo Credit: Author]

This summer, I was recognized by the Korea Educational Association for the Empowerment of Software for my work in creating the website. The award has been one of the team's encouragements to continue attempting to make a change within our own communities. On the search for ways to advocate for human rights, we hope that our website sparks new thoughts and discussions among our readers and inspires them to engage in the conversations we engage in. 

If you are a high school student and would like to contribute to our website, please contact ijmsfs2021@gmail.com!


Rebecca Kim
Senior (Grade 12)
Seoul Foreign School

Rebecca Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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