Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Human Rights for All

Today was a pretty uneventful day. All that happened today was an interesting lecture and project in class. I also went to office hours with friends to present an idea to our instructor. Our idea was about setting up a human rights organization based on youth activism. Our instructor was very excited and supportive after office hours I was beyond excited because before I thought our idea was too idealistic, but after office hours I can’t wait to get started. Afterwards we went to work on our assignments and to study for tomorrow’s class. I loved today even if it was uneventful and I wasn’t climbing a gorge or going to a market. 
Javaria and I found a rainbow in the law building
My class was a large lecture with some discussion sprinkled in (much like the first week). I thought it was interesting because the lecture was on refugee law. It put me through a lot of emotions because there were a good amount of protections and a pretty good definition of a refugee and elements to call a person a refugee. I found this out through certain scenarios the instructor gave us. I found elements comprehensive despite all the loop holes. But what struck me that countries have very little responsibility when it comes to accepting refugees. The laws make it so that states have very little obligation to accept refugees. I understand if the state doesn’t have proper resources to take in refugees, but laws allow powerful and prosperous nations turn down refugees. I found it frustrating that people who are in desperate need and qualified for refugee status can still be denied the rights they deserve.  We then moved on to talk about human trafficking. I was expecting to be bored in Mock Trial our case was on human trafficking so I had to eat, live and breathe the legal definition human trafficking and the elements of the crime. But it was saddening when we talked about the criminalization of sex work. This was tragic because in states like the United States criminalize sex work and that means that many who are even forced into se work can be subject to criminal charges. I have very little to comment on this, all I can say is that I was angry. They did nothing wrong, they didn’t force themselves into this sort of work, they were forced by a pimp as young girls and were essentially raped of their childhood and for that they are punished. I found this disgusting. I was nearly shaking, but then class was over and I went to lunch with friends.

Before class we went to the law library
When we went back to our afternoon sessions we were doing a mock interview were we played the role of an interviewer who was a part of an NGO trying to collect information on human rights abuses or we played the role of an interviewee. We picked partners and I picked Sultana which was a bad idea because we made each other laugh easily, but we powered through it. When I had to interview Sultana I found it difficult because her character been through tragedy and was hiding a lot of information and I tried my best to get information out of her, but it was difficult to do that without being aggressive or invasive. I had a great appreciation for international human rights lawyers for doing this work because you have to be tactile and delicate with the interview. You have to balance getting information with building a relationship and support with someone who has been through something tragic.

Me and my beautiful smile
After class I went to office hours with Pooja, Sultana and Javaria to ask our professor about our idea to have a youth oriented human rights organization. Our organization was basically us advocating for human rights in our community, Sultana would fight for human rights in New York; I would do the same in California etc. What connect us are a name and a website where we have petitions, a blog or articles written by member of our organizations. We would also work towards empowering youth to fight for human rights and to become active members of their community. We presented this idea to our instructor. I expected her to like the idea, but say it was too ambitious or she would like, but pock holes in our idea. None of this happened. She was extremely supportive and gave us great ideas. She said she was excited and found the idea amazing and she said that she would give us some of her contacts. One of her ideas was that we could file a shadow report to CERD (Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) since America was going up for revision soon. We all got excited because we had no clue that an organization of a bunch of teenagers could do such a thing. I pictured it as a bunch of Yale or Cornell educated lawyers writing shadow reports not teens like us. I left the office excited and encouraged so did everyone else. Currently we are working on a website and shared a Google Doc. With every second this idea has become more and more real and I can’t wait to get this organization started.

After office hours I went to study and write up my assignment that is due tomorrow. Today was exciting, interesting and invigorating even though I was swimming next to a waterfall or giving a presentation. I am looking forward to go home even more, but I realized today that not only will I miss Cornell itself, but I will miss the people I met even more. Sultana, Pooja, J’nai, Marian, Eungi, Javaria and more (if I forgot your names my other friends I am very sorry.) are amazing people and I will miss each and every one of them, probably not Javaria because we live in the same city. I love Cornell and the people. I DON’T WANNA LEAVE!!!!  

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