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Project Update 2009-2010: The World As It Could Be – Human Rights Education Project

View All Articles in: Ongoing Programs,Rex News,The World As It Could Be

Join us in helping provide an innovative public education program that promotes excitement about learning and encourages community engagement in furthering human rights.

On December 9, 2009, junior class members in the Future Leaders of Social Change Academy of Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, CA, put on a Town Hall for the 300+ students and faculty of their Academy.  On December 10, students from several different classes at Balboa High School in San Francisco put on a full school assembly.  Both groups had spent the semester studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and shared  reflections on its principles in song, dance, spoken word, poetry, dramatic segments, animation and visual arts displays.  The presentations culminated The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Project’s 2009 pilot curriculum initiative, which sought to integrate the creative arts into teaching the UDHR, as well as formally celebrate students’ acceptance of their responsibility, as engaged members of the global community, to support the tenets of the UDHR.

Students from Arroyo (top) and Balboa High Schools shared their perspectives on human rights as a culmination of their work in the Rex-sponsored program <i>The World As It Could Be</i>.

Students from Arroyo (top) and Balboa High Schools shared their perspectives on human rights as a culmination of their work in the Rex-sponsored program The World As It Could Be.

Excitement was palpable at each school as the young performers’ hard work  received overwhelmingly positive responses from their peers, teachers, family members, and school district leaders.

We invite you to watch the videos of each school’s presentation to see the thoughtful work of the students to reflect their studies of the UDHR and how they brought together individual and group creative efforts for a compelling culminating performance.  We want to note the work of Rex grantee Studio BAYCAT to edit and produce these videos, as well as the DVDs that are used for curriculum training.  Studio BAYCAT also recorded all of the Balboa High School features.

December 9, 2009
Arroyo High School: Culminating Presentation for The World As It Could Be.

December 10, 2010
Balboa High School: Culminating Presentation for The World As It Could Be.

As part of documenting the meaning of this project to students and teachers, we held follow-up visits at each school to record their reflections. The following video shows Sandy Sohcot and Ellen Sebastian Chang, the Project’s Creative Director, interacting with the two classes of Arroyo High School juniors and the teachers involved in the project.

Reflections From Arroyo High School

At Balboa High School, we captured project reflections of the students and teachers as part of a special Tree Dedication ceremony.  Balboa High School has been part of this project since its inception.  The first two original dramatizations about the UDHR were performed there in December 2006 and January 2008.

The 2008 performance – The World As It Could Be – Where There’s A Will There’s A Way – included a Tree Sculpture designed to depict a living UDHR that could hold the “minute actions” people can take to help bring the words of the document to life.  The Rex Foundation decided to contribute the Tree to Balboa.  The video below captures the students’ reflections about the project, read from the “leaves” that will go on the tree; the creative effort to design the tree, presented by Ellen Sebastian Chang and Tree Sculptor/Artist John Maynes; and reflections of the teachers involved in the project.  The ceremony takes place in the newly refurbished space at Balboa dedicated as the Human Rights center.

Reflections from Balboa High School as part of The World As It Could Be Tree Dedication Ceremony

The Rex Foundation is now immersed in expanding on the successes of The World As It Could Be project initiated in 2006.  Click here for the full details of the project (2009) that led to the recent pilots, and to see the video performances created as part of the 2006 and 2007/08 project work.

Our current initiatives to expand the project include the following:

  • Refine the curriculum materials for easy application and adaptation by teachers and others interested in implementing the project;
  • Working with Rex grantee Studio BAYCAT, create a robust website that provides the curriculum and resource links for anyone interested in learning more about the UDHR and implementing the curriculum;
  • Expand implementation of the curriculum in Bay Area high schools in the 2010/11 school year, including collaboration with the University of San Francisco International & Multicultural Education Department of the School of Education to create a 3-day curriculum training forum;
  • Work with schools across the country interested in implementing the project; seek, as in the Bay Area pilot project, to encourage successful connections between the schools and  local area non-profits that utilize the creative arts in working with youth, so as to strengthen community connections while also helping academic-subject teachers integrate the creative arts in their teaching;
  • Continue to expand awareness of the UDHR and its importance:
    • Commission local area Rex grantee(s) that utilize the creative arts in working with youth, to develop original dramatic productions that depict the significance of the different articles of the UDHR, such as Article 26: Everyone has the right to education.  Be able to showcase these productions with live performances and video distribution across different types of media platforms, such as YouTube and public broadcasting networks.
    • Collaborate with organizations that promote human rights education, community dialogue and other forums for civic engagement, providing access to all developed materials.
A dictionary provides an unexpected lesson at Arroyo High School.

A dictionary provides an unexpected lesson at Arroyo High School.

The World As It Could Be project is made possible because of the generous support of foundations, corporate and individual contributors.   These contributions make it possible for the Rex Foundation to fund the work of the non-profits who are part of the project, the teachers who attend the curriculum trainings, the schools who implement the project, as well as to administer all aspects of the project.  We thank the supporters who have made each phase of this project possible:

The World As It Could Be – A Declaration of Human Rights

The World As It Could Be – Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Project 2009

Consider being a sponsor of the next phase of this project and help further the possibilities of The World As It Could Be. Download the Sponsor Response Form or contact Rex Executive Director Sandy Sohcot,  (415) 561-3134, sandy@rexfoundation.org



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