Human Rights Week 2021 at KIS: Removing the Mask on Social Pandemics

Human Rights Week is an annual event at Korea International School featuring guest speakers whose own experiences illustrate the importance of knowing and responding to current social issues.

Human Rights Week (HRW) is organized by the KIS Human Rights Initiative (KHRI), a group of thirteen students. With the theme of “Removing the Mask on Social Pandemics,” HRW centered its daily sessions on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). HRW kicked off on Monday, April 19, with middle and high school students and faculty attending sessions via Zoom. Sessions focused on:

  • Responsible Consumption & Production
  • Sustainable Cities & Communities
  • Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
  • Gender Equality
  • Reduced Inequality 
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Guest speakers included Jonathan Hanta, a Congolese refugee who has lived in Korea since childhood, and Heather Barr, the interim co-director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. Often, a personal story or connection to an issue inspires empathy. At KIS, the KHRI wants to empower all students to act upon awareness.

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Many KIS students are familiar with the UN SDGs. In recent years teachers have incorporated these goals into lessons and activities, familiarizing students with global concerns and helping them to think about the relevance of these issues in their own lives and communities. KHRI partners with teachers to implement UN SDGs at KIS. For example, a simple, tangible response to the goal of responsible consumption and production is to reduce single-use plastics. Or, to promote gender equality, sports coaches can check that boys’ and girls’ teams receive equal practice time on playing fields and courts.

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KIS director Michelle Quirin is proud of KHRI’s initiative to connect UN SDGs to the KIS community through small group reflective sharing and calls to action. Each HRW session paired the guest speaker with a representative from a related KIS service project. KHRI hopes that once students learn about an issue, they will seek a way to personally affect change. 

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This year’s featured KIS programs included the eco friendly BRAVO Club and the Social Justice League. Jenna and Lucy of BRAVO reflect that applied knowledge of sustainable practices affects both present and future societies. Emma of the Social Justice League believes that events like HRW make space to address issues, part of the process of change. “Ask what you can do at this moment,” Emma says, “In your community.” 

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HKRI student leader Hannah is already thinking about the impact HKRI and HRW can have next school year. HKRI advisor Nate Samuelson is proud the student group brings awareness of issues to the KIS community. “A culture of awareness and empathy helps us incite change in our community,” he says. Explore the UN Sustainable Development Goals online. KIS encourages you to learn more and get involved to promote change and growth. 

Photos feature the KIS spring Artivism show of student art created in response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Elementary, middle and high school artists participated. 

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Korea International School

Korea International School

Korea International School (KIS) is a private, proprietary, non-profit, nonsectarian school. KIS offers a fully WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)-accredited PK-12. As a high-performing college preparatory school, we deliver a comprehensive education in humanities, world languages, engineering, arts, math, and science using both traditional and innovative teaching practices, with an emphasis on providing internationally minded applied learning opportunities.

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