I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life

I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life

I was in Berlin in 1989 when the Wall came down. I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life and letting me witness history. The author perched on a Berlin underground station entrance in the fall of 1989 (Photo courtesy of Elaine Monaghan) In June...

In 1989, Elaine Monaghan found herself in Germany. She would spend two decades covering international affairs for the Reuters news service, but the night she witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall changed her life. Reflecting on that event, she marks the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of the Soviet Union, whose decisions contributed to the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the USSR. Monaghan tells us that “even if you don’t always grasp everything that is happening around you, if you follow an unmarked, difficult path, opting not to resist the pull of history, walls can come tumbling down.” She offers youth an important reminder that, with strife all around us, they can still make a difference.

Exercise: The Berlin Wall was a concrete barrier that separated East and West Berlin, dividing two countries – the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. Can your students think of a wall today, either physical or geographic, that acts as a political divide? What might bring that wall down?

The Sri Lanka paradise I have known is now a bankrupt island

The Sri Lanka paradise I have known is now a bankrupt island

My family can barely make ends meet amid runaway inflation and shortages of foodstuffs. No wonder Sri Lanka has kicked out a corrupt ruling clan. Protesters take over the office of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, demanding he resign, Colombo, Sri...

News Decoder correspondent Feizal Samath provides an on-the-ground glimpse of life in Sri Lanka following months of inflation, essential shortages and protests that led to the ouster of the president and the ruling clan. Samath gives context to a situation that many outside of the region ignored until images of protestors storming the presidential palace flooded the media. By painting a picture of his own challenges in procuring fuel and everyday foods, Samath puts readers in the shoes of those whose lives have been disrupted by turmoil. 

Exercise: Ask students to imagine a part of the world different from their own and write a first-person narrative of what life looks like for a teenager there. How do the political and economic realities impact their family, their schools or their daily routines?

Future of Democracy