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Another Summer, Another Great Class of Interns

August 13 marked the end of our summer internship program, and before enjoying a celebratory team BBQ, the interns wrapped up their stints at i-ACT by each giving a presentation on the projects they worked on over the last few months.


The projects and presentations covered topics including social-psychological patterns shared by perpetrators of mass atrocities, benefits of incorporating mindfulness exercises into curricula created for those who have experienced trauma, early childhood education in emergency situations, and mandating genocide-and-Holocaust instruction in United States K-12 schools. We also heard recaps from interns who had been working on updating and expanding our Human Rights Library.

It was interesting to learn about how, oftentimes, perpetrators commit “crimes of obedience” by following the commands of authority figures regardless of agreement with those commands, while personal ideology or an incli

nation toward aggression usually are not primary motivating factors in the perpetration of a violence or of a mass atrocity. Perhaps by educating people (especially young people) about the necessity at times to stand up to those in authority, we can gradually remove the heavy disinclination of many human beings to challenge authority even when authority is behaving questionably.

Education on genocide and the Holocaust also needs to become more of a standard part of K-12 curricula as, we learned through one of the presentations, there are currently only five states with mandated genocide-and-Holocaust teachings. Following this presentation, members of the i-ACT team discussed strategies and next-steps in increasing the number of states that require genocide-and-Holocaust studies to be included on school syllabi. 

As far as teaching goes, our interns definitely brought tremendous enlightenment on subjects which the anti-genocide movement and organizations working to empower refugees should stay apprised of. To celebrate the productive summer as well as thank our interns and volunteers, we threw a casual party that consisted of many tacos (okay, it wasn’t a BBQ, although we still called it one!) and lots of good conversation. What a great end to the 2015 summer internship program, and what a motivational beginning to being better-equipped to continue our work!


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