By Lauren Heuser
A global webinar featuring students discussing homelessness, gender violence and climate change activism. An article exploring the implications of police violence against protestors in Chile. A student taking top place in our “Are You A Decoder?” quiz. Faculty shaping a classroom assignment around News Decoder’s educational resources.
These are ways the Friends Seminary school has engaged with News Decoder this year, and it’s why the New York-based school receives this month’s “Decoder in the Spotlight” award. The award recognizes schools or individuals who show leadership, innovation and collaboration in bringing News Decoder to their communities.
“After interviewing with people outside of my community, organizing meetings with other students at school and working with the African Leadership Academy on our webinar, I’ve come to understand through News Decoder the value of storytelling,” said Malik Figaro, one of Friends’ two Student Ambassadors.
“Understanding and engaging with issues that don’t necessarily impact my daily life has allowed me to connect with people outside of my community and has changed my perspective on my role in society,” he added.
Aryanna Qusba, Friends’ other Student Ambassador, also deserves special recognition. “I have really enjoyed watching Friends students begin to engage with issues of social justice,” she said. “News Decoder has pushed students to sit down and connect with people who’ve had very different sets of experiences.”
Thoughtful and articulate presentations
Student Ambassadors are champions of News Decoder on campus. They encourage students to participate in the global webinar, to produce multi-media content and to use News Decoder in the classroom.
Qusba and Figaro are both in their final year at Friends, which was one of News Decoder’s 14 founding member institutions. Both became interested in serving as Student Ambassadors after producing articles on mass incarceration for News Decoder last year.
Friends’ strong engagement was reflected is thoughtful and articulate presentations by students in their global webinar. Friends’ students co-presented with students from the African Leadership Academy (ALA) on topics relating to the individual and society.
“My most valuable experience was participating in the webinar with ALA,” said Qusba. “It was amazing to speak with students about issues that impact both our countries in various ways.”
Friends student Charles Gorrivan wrote one of the most-read articles on News Decoder’s site in 2020. The article explores rising tensions in Chile amid police violence against protestors. It featured interviews with the head of the United Nations Office for Human Rights at the South American Office and a professor at Diego Portales University.
Qusba won first place in a News Decoder quiz that tested participants’ knowledge of global issues examined in News Decoder’s articles. For her efforts, she walked away with a News Decoder sweatshirt.
The award also recognizes the efforts of Friends faculty Leitzel Schoen and Jason Craige Harris. Harris is planning to have students use News Decoder to complete an assignment for his religion class in coming months. He and Schoen hope other faculty at Friends to follow suit.
To read about previous recipients of the “Decoder in the Spotlight” award and their contributions to the News Decoder community, visit our Spotlight page.
Lauren Heuser is the managing editor and strategy officer of News Decoder. She previously worked as a deputy editor and columnist for the National Post, a national Canadian newspaper. Lauren has a master of business administration from INSEAD and a law degree from the University of Toronto.