Guest post by Christina Li
Volunteering has always been a big part of my life, and volunteering with the Red Cross has definitely been one of my favorite experiences. Two years ago, I joined the Woodbury High School Red Cross Club. Of course, me being me, I had to drag a couple of friends along: first Leah, and then Caitlyn. We started off with basic projects like holiday cards for veterans and blood drives, but pretty soon us three (Caitlyn, Leah, and me) started looking for extra opportunities. We worked together on the Pillowcase Project and helped raise money for hurricane victims (which hopefully we’ll be running next year, fingers crossed). When we were presented with the opportunity to participate in the International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign, we were so excited. All of the projects we had done so far had been planned step by step for us, so this was the perfect chance to take control and leave an impact on those around us.
On the day of the training, we all got up super early and drove to the Red Cross office in Minneapolis. To be honest, we had no idea what to expect, and for me at least, I had no idea what International Humanitarian Law was. A little nervous, we walked into the classroom and… no one was there. Well, no students at least. At first, it was a little awkward being only 3 students in a room with 4 adults but, looking back, it was amazing to have that one-on-one type of learning environment. We were able to ask questions at anytime and launch into full scale debates about whatever we wanted. We talked about what International Humanitarian Law (IHL) was, what the Health Care in Danger (HCID) initiative was for, and, most importantly, what we could do about it. Being best friends with Leah and Caitlyn, the moment we 3 girls were set free to start designing our own campaign we all blurted the exact same idea. The hard part was in the details. Dr. Haji Dokhanchi, our instructor and a Red Cross volunteer, was incredibly helpful and we were able to pick his brain on what he thought would be most successful. We walked out of class practically talking over each other and bursting at the seams with different ideas.
Although we’re only sophomores, all of our schedules are filled with school and extracurricular activities, which made it really hard for us to work on our presentation all at the same time. We resorted to working on chunks at a time, and with the help of Dr. Nour Sinada, our club adviser, we finished our script and were ready to present. After countless emails, March 18th finally came, day one of our week of presentations. Teaching wasn’t a new experience for any of us, but teaching a class of 30 squirmy freshmen definitely was. We had become very passionate about the topic, and we tried to convey that in the way that we presented.
A week later, we had taught around 270 students in classrooms and reached out to over 1,000 students over social media. During and after the campaign, we were met with so many supportive students and faculty. We even had 46 students contact us about either joining the club or volunteering for the Red Cross. We couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity to raise awareness for the Health Care in Danger campaign and for all of the people who have helped us accomplish our goal. We’d like to specifically thank the teachers who lent us their classrooms along with Dan Williams and Dr. Haji Dokhanchi, both of the Red Cross. This has been one of the most vigorous projects we have ever taken on, but it also became an extremely positive experience for our team and club, as well as for also our school and community.
Thank you all for this wonderful experience!