In Ukraine war, Red Cross defends neutrality against critics

In Ukraine war, Red Cross defends neutrality against critics

For more than 150 years, the Red Cross has remained neutral in wars. Today, it still defends that stance against critics as Russia ravages Ukraine. A man presses paper with a red cross on it against the windshield of a bus as civilians are evacuated from Irpin, on the...

For many people, the war in Ukraine seems one of the latest litmus tests of ideological purity: One side is good, the other side bad. So it is with politics in many countries: One side is right, the other wrong. Nowadays it can be difficult, especially for youth, to understand why diplomats speak to all sides in an armed conflict, or why the Red Cross would remain neutral in Ukraine. In their story, Katharine Lake Berz and Daneese Rao, fellows at the University of Toronto, examine why the 159-year-old Red Cross, true to tradition, has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion so it can offer aid to victims on all sides of the conflict. It’s a valuable lesson for a world hungry for harmony.

Exercise: Have your students debate this resolution: “The Red Cross should condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.”

At-home learning offers glimmer of hope to Afghan girls

At-home learning offers glimmer of hope to Afghan girls

The Taliban have barred girls from schools in Afghanistan. So some of them gather secretly in homes in Kabul, drawn together by a former teacher. Hassan Adib leads a discussion of “Memories of a translator” by Mohhamad Qazi in Kabul, April 2022. (Photo by...

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan means millions of girls cannot attend school. Many young people outside of the country know this, but it is difficult for them to conceive just what this means for a young Afghan girl their age. In his story, Jalal Nazari, an Afghan now living in Canada where he is a Global Journalism Fellow at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, takes us inside Kabul homes, where about 30 teenage girls meet secretly twice a month to improve their reading and writing skills. To hear the girls and their teacher speak adds a highly personal dimension to a conflict that for many young people remains distant and abstract. The courage they show in the face of Taliban strictures is a reminder to young people everywhere that education is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

Exercise: Ask your students to interview their parents, asking them why education is important, and then to write an essay quoting their parents and adding their own thoughts.

War in Ukraine stirs empathy & angst in neighboring Romania

War in Ukraine stirs empathy & angst in neighboring Romania

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent millions of refugees into neighboring nations. I live in Romania, where the war has stirred compassion and fear. A Ukrainian refugee on a bus at the Romanian-Ukrainian border in Siret, Romania, 8 March 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea...

War in Europe has awakened an entire generation in the West to the horrible realities of armed conflict. Octavian-Anton Ghisa lives in Romania, which borders Ukraine, and so he naturally takes a keen interest in the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have poured over the border since Russia invaded Ukraine. Ghisa, a student at Transylvania College, combines that interest with a knack for listening to others and produces a piece that captures a powerful mix of emotions: “fear, stress, compassion, panic and even ambivalence.” Listening carefully is a skill that does not come naturally to many young people but which underpins any solid reporting.

Exercise: Ask each student to interview a parent about a difficult moment in their youth and to write a short article based on quotes from the interview.

Shaken by war in Ukraine, children turn to art for hope

Shaken by war in Ukraine, children turn to art for hope

News groups around the world are encouraging children shocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to turn to art as an outlet for their worries. Youth around the world are drawing pictures in an outpouring of support for the children of Ukraine. My nonprofit, Global...

The war in Ukraine has been traumatic for young people around the globe who have never seen armed conflict in Europe and who may not have followed atrocities in Syria, Yemen or elsewhere in the world. Social media platforms have broadcast terrifying images from Ukraine, and teachers have struggled to help students absorb the atrocities. Aralynn McMane, a News Decoder trustee who specializes in how news media can better serve the young, has pulled together artwork by young people inside and outside of Ukraine that channels their emotions while packing a punch. Art, and not just words, can convey complicated thoughts.

Exercise: Ask your students to draw a picture that captures their feelings about the war in Ukraine.

Politics