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Release: July 22, 1999

‘Teaching Human Rights in Schools' is theme of International Day Nov. 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Teaching Human Rights in the Schools" will be the theme of the Fourth Annual International Day at the University of Iowa Nov. 2.

Paul Retish, director of the UI Office of International Education, said there's growing recognition that human rights is as relevant an issue in U.S. schools, businesses and homes as in developing countries.

"Look at the violence in schools, the treatment of people of different races and religions -- they're all human rights issues," Retish said. "When you see what's on the Web that's produced by young kids and graduates of our schools, the hate that's there, you begin to understand the need for this kind of program."

Teachers are encouraged to register early for this year's daylong program of discussions, activities and guest speakers. Featured speakers for International Day '99 are expected to include four experts in the areas of human rights. While plans are to allow as many as 200 to 300 participants this year, space is limited.

Last year, some 125 students and about 30 teachers from middle and high schools attended the day-long offering, including a presentation by Dith Pran, the celebrated Cambodian journalist whose harrowing escape from his native country was portrayed in the movie "The Killing Fields." Another 60 to 70 people had to be turned away.

Participating schools select a team made up of one teacher and four to five students to represent them at the conference, which is free to attendees. The teams act as facilitators when they return to their schools, helping to add international perspectives to their study of issues.

Each participant receives a T-shirt as a souvenir. Lunch will be provided.

Because human rights is a universal issue, Retish encourages schools to select teachers from a variety of specialties -- biology, math, art and English, as well as social studies and counseling -- and students from a variety of backgrounds and abilities.

"Don't just send your best students," he said. "We want teams that represent all of the students in the schools."

The program is co-sponsored by the Office of International Education in the UI College of Education and the UI Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREES).

For more information or to register, call the Office of International Education at (319) 335-6280.