There is a story in today's Globe and Mail that reminds all of us, whether practicing or retired teachers, why we got into the profession. Since it is such a refreshing antidote to our inevitable cynicism, I am taking the liberty of reproducing it below:
7,500 Ontario students get lesson in activism
October 20, 2007
More than 7,500 Ontario students raged with enthusiasm yesterday at the Toronto edition of a national crusade meant to encourage young people to take on causes of political and social responsibility.
The National Me To We Day gathering at the Ricoh Coliseum was organized by Free the Children, the organization founded by activist Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he was 12 years old.
"Most adults think that at some point, youth in general don't have enough interest," said Danny Nguyen, 17, who's started a Free the Children chapter at William Lyon Mackenzie in North York to raise money to build a school in Sierra Leone. "These movements and enthusiasm show we do have the initiative."
The event's goal was to encourage youth to take on leadership roles in their communities and abroad to work against poverty, stand up for human rights and work toward a more peaceful world.
The day-long event featured motivational speakers and musical guests, with host Ben Mulroney.
Students heard the story of 19-year-old Michel Chikwanine's childhood in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rebel forces lined up the children in his village, blindfolded them, slit their wrists, drugged them and then pitted them against one another. Mr. Chikwanine was five years old when he killed his best friend.
Romeo Dallaire urged the audience to hold leaders accountable for change, question the status quo and demand human equality.
"We are all human and everyone of us counts just as much as the other," Mr. Dallaire said.
Students gave standing ovations for each speaker, waved illuminated cellphones during Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo's performance and were buzzing with ideas during their short lunch break.
"It makes me realize how privileged we are to live in this country, and that it should be like this for everyone," said Katie Pacheco, 15, who came from Lakeshore Collegiate in Etobicoke.
"I want to help people in poverty and children [from] being raped and tortured," said Grade 7 student Claudia Luszczynski, who hopes to organize clothing donations to raise money with her class.
Christine Oliver, 16, who attends Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, is working to organize social events, fashion shows and clothing drives to show Toronto that the youth in her Malvern community have a lot of positive change to make.
"People focus on the negative and don't want to highlight the positive," Ms. Oliver said. "We want to give Malvern a better rep."