Illinois Wesleyan University Addresses Human Rights
Each year Illinois Wesleyan University students have the option to participate in a May Term course, which is a one-month course intended to give students an opportunity to explore areas they normally couldn’t in traditional fall and spring semesters. Along with the classes, there are several other opportunities for students to get involved and learn more about a specific theme.

This year, the May Term theme is making human rights real. Through a series of activities, students can learn more about the topic. One such activity is a poverty simulation workshop, which gives students a genuine view of how those in poverty and extreme poverty live each day and also encourages action by discussing solutions to community problems.

Another activity promoted during this term is a “Mini Course on Community Action,” which is led by community leaders to teach students the basics of founding a successful community action campaign, including how to overcome obstacles and encourage others to participate and give back to society.

May Term also offers many volunteer opportunities to give students a better sense of giving back, including the Adopt A Meal program to prepare meals for a local homeless shelter, and Titan2Titan, a program designed to allow current IWU students to work with retired university alums for a day of service.

While May Term is often considered the “play term” by students at the university, it has potential to change lives and encourage a lifetime of service by allowing students to experience new activities related to human rights and giving back.

Katie Brockman
Source: IWU

Room to Read is a non-profit organization started by John J. Wood in 1999. He got the idea for the organization when he visited a school in Nepal one year during a vacation. There were 450 students at the school, yet there were no children’s books. The library only a had a few books that were inaccessible to the students. The following year, Wood quit his job at Microsoft and returned to Nepal with 3,000 books to build a functioning library for the children. This was how Room to Read began.

Wood believes that simply coming into a country, building a library or school, and then leaving does not completely fix the problem. Instead, he says that prolonged community involvement is key. Finding local librarians and teachers to encourage students to read and learn will create a ripple effect. It creates jobs for native citizens and gives kids an education. Everyone is more invested in the outcome that way because they are actively involved in the solution, and results will last longer than if they simply received a gift from someone in a foreign country.

He also encourages more affluent students and families to participate in raising money for Room to Read through ‘sponsored silence’ programs and Read-a-thons. So far, Room to Read is established in 10 countries and will have helped 10 million kids by 2015. Other accomplishments include building 15,000 libraries and 1,600 schools, publishing 850 original children’s books, and enrolling 20,000 girls in a special girl’s education program.

Katie Brockman
Source New York Times
Photo: Room to Read

Mexico's First Midwifery SchoolIn Mexico, traditional midwifery services have been fallen steadily as women choose to have their babies in hospitals. However, many citizens who still live too far from hospitals need midwives. To meet this demand, Mexico has established its first public midwifery school, and young women are learning this ancient practice with the intent to graduate.

Guadalupe Maniero, the school’s director, explains that in Mexico, “hospitals are oversaturated, and so it’s a big problem.” Since the 2011 law that grants midwives a place among the country’s legally accepted medical professions, age-old stigmas have begun to fade. By helping to deliver babies, doctors have much more time to spend focusing on dangerous births in which the child and/or mother are in danger.

The four-year program grants its graduates certificates that allow them to practice in legitimate health centers. By interweaving longstanding cultural traditions with modern-day needs and practices, Mexico’s first midwifery school has the potential to benefit the entire country for years to come.

Jake Simon

Source: NPR