Each month, News Decoder spotlights unique stories on big issues. The Educators’ Catalog helps teachers spur students to dig into tough topics.

This emigre finds meaning supplying war materiel to Ukraine 2

Jeffrey Mo’s story followed Ukrainian émigré Dmytro Shelukhin (shown in photo) as he hauled war matériel to his home country.

The war in Ukraine has unleashed a tsunami of ink and images in the press. For a journalist, it’s a crowded field, with so many important angles of the conflict — military, humanitarian, strategic — covered in depth, in real time.

In his most recent story for News Decoder, Jeffrey Mo takes us with an Ukrainian émigré, Dmytro Shelukhin, as he hauls war matériel from Britain to his besieged home country in defiance of the Russian invaders. It’s a simple but inspiring human story that underscores both the high stakes involved in the conflict and the depth of Ukrainian defiance.

By viewing the conflict through Shelukhin’s eyes, Mo provides us with a unique perspective — not an easy feat when so many journalists at the top of their game are covering the conflict from so many angles.

News Decoder encourages its writers, including students at our 23 partner schools, to produce distinctive content on big, global issues, which is why Mo’s story is included in our latest monthly Educators’ Catalog.

Each month, the Catalog highlights four News Decoder stories that cast fresh light on critical issues by taking us behind the scenes, often entertaining opposing points of view or swimming upstream against the media tide.

News Decoder shuns easy answers.

Take this story by Katharine Lake Berz and Daneese Rao on the International Red Cross’s work in Ukraine. The 159-year-old institution has come in for rampant criticism for refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of its neighbor. Many social media platforms favored by Western youth are awash with opprobrium for the Red Cross.

But Lake Berz and Rao examine why the Red Cross has held true to its tradition of staying neutral so it can deliver succor to victims on all sides of the conflict. That tradition, like the work of diplomats, can be difficult for many young people, raised in a polarized political climate where things are black and white, to understand. But it’s a valuable lesson for a world hungry for harmony.

In her story on carbon credits, Monica Kidd stakes out unique ground by taking a personal look at an aspect of climate change that is much discussed but rarely examined closely. Eschewing the abstract approach favored by many writers, Kidd went out and bought a tonne of carbon for $15 and then listened to the farmer who made the sale explain how it works and why carbon credits are not a silver bullet in the climate fight.

In her approach, Kidd reminds us that understanding the complexities of problems is the sine qua non to pinpointing solutions.

Immigration is a hot political potato in much of the world, and it would have been easy for Nina Bugajska of Realgymnasium Rämibühl Zürich to align herself with one side or the other in her home country of Switzerland.

Instead, she cites a global polling company, a German data specialist, the Swiss federal statistics office and a Swiss consulting company, and she interviews a university professor, giving her a solid foundation for her look into the important role that immigrants play in Switzerland’s economy.

News Decoder encourages students at its partner schools to rely on authoritative data and sources when examining issues, and Bugajska provides an excellent model.

Educators’ Catalog aims to help create better global citizens.

Finally, consider Jalal Nazari’s story about the fate of millions of girls in Afghanistan. Nazari, an Afghan now living in Canada, 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.

Thanks to its correspondents and contributors, including students, News Decoder offers a distinctive take on critical global issues. In a world all but drowning in media content, our authors shed new light by examining opposing views, tapping authoritative sources and going behind the scenes.

The Educators’ Catalog is our way of shining a spotlight on those authors’ techniques and contributions — and of offering teachers around the world with exercises they can use in the classroom to help their students get a grip on the issues they care most about.

For example, a teacher can ask their students to read Mo’s story about Shelukhin and then assign this exercise:

Ask your students to identify an issue dominating the news around the world — such as climate change or human rights — and to find a local angle. Then they should interview someone directly involved in the local matter and write a story capturing that person’s experiences and thoughts.

Each article highlighted in the Educators’ Catalog offers such an exercise.

Together, the articles on News Decoder, the Educators’ Catalog and the proposed exercises form an important part of our effort to live up to our mission of helping to create better global citizens.

If you are interested in receiving the Educators’ Catalog by email each month, please send an email to info@news-decoder.com.

(Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder.)

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