Julie Brenner and Jenn Rangnow
Skillman, New Jersey
For Julie Brenner and Jenn Rangnow, two teachers at Montgomery Middle School, a key educational goal is to instill in their sixth grade students a sense of social responsibility and the knowledge that caring for the community, both local and global, is their obligation. A main element of their approach to curricula is to ultimately “move the students from the text into the world.” As part of their coursework, the students were examining concepts like racism, oppression, activism, and genocide, with a focus on the Holocaust and Darfur. They also attended a Genocide Prevention conference at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in New Jersey at which the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Initiative Director, John Heffernan, was a keynote speaker.
The teachers consulted with John on a practical way in which the students could help victims of genocide. John suggested they look into the Darfur Stoves Project and soon a plan emerged for their fundraising campaign. The student launched “Spare Change for Change,” a school-wide fundraiser during which students put money in milk jugs and other containers placed in classrooms. Students donated leftover lunch money, allowances, and other money they had earned or saved. In the end they raised over $2,100, enough funds to purchase 107 stoves for genocide victims in Darfur.
These stoves are of critical importance. Around 2.5 million people in Darfur have been displaced by the violence, many of whom are now crowded into refugee or IDP camps. In order to cook, the women and children frequently have to leave these camps in search of firework, making them vulnerable to attacks, oftentimes involving sexual violence. With the Berkeley-Darfur Stove, 75% less fuel is needed, markedly reducing the number of dangerous journeys these women and children must make.
In the years to come, Julie and Jenn plan to continue their Learning Through Experience/Preventing Genocide program sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at RVCC, with each year culminating in a school-wide fundraiser to benefit victims of genocide. As Julie explains, “Our goal is to stir and empower our students to action, to show them the dangers and consequences of inaction and indifference, and to drive home the message that both action and inaction are choices.”
For more information, please visit http://www.potentialenergy.org/ (external link).