Teaching About Genocide with DE streaming

Discovery adds new content to its Discovery Education streaming media library all the time. Here is my new favorite media asset – Interview wih Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager featured in Hotel Rwanda. This video is part of the new content added to the DE streaming service this summer by the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, one of the new organizations joining the 180+ content providers who license their media for teacher and student use through Discovery Education.

Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who saved more than 1,200 Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, shares his thoughts on freedom, personal responsibility, heroism, and social justice.

Click here to access the full 28-minute video. (Note: you will need to log into Discovery Education to access the video.)

As with most DE streaming videos, the interview is segmented into chapters to make it easier to use in targeted classroom instruction. This interview is organized into 70 chapters, one segment for each interview question and response.

I wish that I would have been able to use this when I was still in the classroom and teaching my students about genocide. I would likely have used it in juxtaposition with First Person Singular: Elie Wiesel, which I used to prepare my students to read Night.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel reflects upon his life, his work and his concerns for the future of mankind. The celebrated author of the Holocaust memoir Night reveals how he reconstructed his life after surviving the horrors of Auschwitz to enter a world of writing, teaching and campaigning tirelessly against threats to human rights throughout the world. He presents a warm and lively account of his experiences as a journalist in Paris and Jerusalem, of his authorship of more than 40 novels, plays and essays, and of his human rights activism. He also focuses grimly on the ability of human beings to dehumanize each other in order to kill with impunity. In discussing the events of September 11, he reflects on how the re-emergence of terrorism in a new and unimaginably more dangerous form casts doubts on whether the 21st century can avoid re-creating the nightmares of the 20th.

The Genocide Education Project has some excellent classroom resources to teach about genocide, focusing in on the acknowledged instances of genocide in the 20th century — Armenian Genocide 1915-1918, Holocaust 1939-1945, Cambodia Killing Fields 1975-1979, Rwandan Genocide 1994, and the Genocide in Sudan 2004-today. I have used some of the materials from the “Confronting Genocide: Never Again” unit from the Choices Program developed by Brown University. Click here for more resources to teach genocide.

I think it would be a terrific social studies – language arts collaboration to have students explore the different first-person experiences with genocide and how survivors managed their memories and used them to inform their future commitment to humankind. I did something like this one year as an integration with my partner language arts teacher. Students read both Night and Maus: A Survivor’s Tale and produced multimedia representations of survivors’ experiences during and after the Holocaust. One of my favorite projects was this podcast. It was an imaginary conversation between Elie Wiesel (Night) and Vladek Spiegelman (Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale, My Father Bleeds History) in a coffee shop in New York City.

I could see expanding this project and including exploration of the survivors from other genocides. Perhaps, Elie Wiesel might have a conversation with Loung Ung, survivor of the Cambodian Genocide and author of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, or with some of those survivors from the Rwandan featured in Philip Gourevitch’s book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.

The video segments from DE streaming could be used to provide the scaffolding so that students gain a foundational understanding of genocide before starting to read the first-person accounts and memoirs. In addition to the segments I already highlighted, here are a few others that would be useful.

The Legacy of the Pol Pot Regime and Khmer Rouge
Keepers of Memory: Survivors’ Accounts of the Rwandan Genocide
The Holocaust: In Memory of Millions
Civil War and Genocide in Rwanda: Video Yearbook Collection 1994

DE streaming has many more videos, images, and articles to support learning about genocide.  The media is helpful in providing background when teaching a very difficult and emotionally charged topic.

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