Transitioning from High School to College

When you finally graduate high school, it can be an extremely emotional and happy experience. For many of us, the next step is college. The transition from high school to college can often be difficult because college is so different from high school. There are new opportunities to consider, new people to meet, and new challenges to face. For Red Cross youth volunteers, this often means moving to a new area (and a new Red Cross chapter), which can be a tricky process.

If you are moving to a new area for college, you should first inform your local chapter that you will be transferring. This is handled by individual chapters, so be sure to do this well in advance before you leave. The most important thing a student can do is research. What kind of college are you attending? Where is it located? Do they have a Red Cross Club you can join? These are just some of the questions you should explore the summer before freshmen year. Sending an email to your college’s chapter contact will help you gain an understanding of what the chapter’s focuses are as well as learn what opportunities you can take advantage of.  Doing this will help smooth the transition and make things a little less stressful during your first weeks of class.

After you contact your new chapter, find out if your college has a Red Cross Club. If it does, great! You can email the President and get started right away. Keep in mind that the club may be run in a different way than your high school club was. If your college does not have a Red Cross Club, you can still volunteer with the Red Cross. Reach out to see what opportunities the local chapter has for college students. Alternatively, if you are very passionate about the Red Cross, you can try to start your own club. Remember that redcrossyouth.org has many resources, including Club in a Box, available if you choose to do this. A little initiative can really pay off in the long run.

Most importantly, remember college is a time for self-discovery. You will be challenged in new ways, and you will be able to push yourself to new limits. Whether you continue your Red Cross journey, or decide to pursue new endeavors, remember the things you learned as a Red Cross volunteer, and use those experiences to help you better understand what it means to give to others. A wonderful journey awaits you.

– Josh Lovett, NYIM Liaison

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Youth Volunteers for the Home Fire Campaign

Every year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 home fires, the largest disaster threat in the United States. To reduce these numbers, the Red Cross introduced the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in October 2014. Over 100,000 smoke alarms have already been installed, and youth volunteers are encouraged to get involved in this life-saving campaign! Below is a list of volunteer positions that can be filled by youth volunteers – contact your local Red Cross chapter to see how you can get started!

  • Pre-Event Canvassing Volunteer:
    • Key Tasks: Directly communicates with Home Fire Campaign participants in the community about the program’s benefits
    • Areas of Interest: Communications, Psychology, Sociology
  • Documenter:
    • Key Tasks: Ensures that all community smoke detectors are in compliance with safety standards, and maintains documentation when discussing Home Fire Campaign documents with community residents
    • Areas of Interest: Administration, Communications
  • Safety Educator:
    • Key Tasks: Teaches community residents about the benefits of maintaining smoke detectors and ways to prevent home fires
    • Areas of Interest: Emergency Response, Psychology, Sociology, Nursing
  • Smoke Alarm Installer:
    • Key Tasks: Leads the installation of smoke detectors in homes, troubleshoots defective smoke detectors, and ensures the proper functionality of devices
    • Areas of Interest: Emergency Response, Engineering, Architecture

To learn more about the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, check out this video from the National Youth Council!

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How the Red Cross Gave Back

For me and most Red Cross volunteers, there is no end to what we will do to be of assistance. This includes being ready to get up and serve at all hours of the day or night.

My call came at 3AM one morning this winter. It wasn’t to respond to a home fire or a tornado. Instead, it was to participate in a live stream event with the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) team at National Headquarters. The event was co-sponsored with the Swedish Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and was primarily geared toward international audiences. And I had been chosen to be the youth voice to represent the American Red Cross’ Humanitarian Education initiative. I was faced with a pair of big shoes to fill, but I was ready for my 15 minutes of fame.

As I was driving across the city, mentally practicing answers in my head, it finally hit me. I couldn’t believe that I had been asked to do this. Hundreds of Red Cross employees and volunteers from around the world were about to hear about my experiences with the International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign (IHLAC). A wave came over me and I immediately became so thankful for everything the Red Cross had given me. I could never have imagined that I would be given this incredibly unique opportunity when I first signed up to join my university’s IHLAC.

I immediately started to reminisce, and brought myself back to each incredible opportunity the Red Cross has given to me. Two internships, an incredible college club experience, tornado recovery experience, years of blood drives, and even the skills to be a successful babysitter when I was just 12 years old. Now I am lucky to have received the gift of the National Youth Council. I have been blessed with 12 new friends who will continue to grow with me in our Red Cross experiences.

The season of giving may be over, but when you’re a Red Cross volunteer, you have a gift that keeps on giving. If you’re considering getting more involved in 2016, look no further. This is your sign. When you give your time to the Red Cross, the Red Cross gives back.

– Shannon Vance, Navin Award Committee Liaison

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New National Youth Council Member

The National Youth Council is incredibly excited to welcome Maria Muzaurieta to our team!

Maria is a senior at The Bolles School, in Jacksonville, Florida. With the influence of the local chapter, Maria began her Red Cross journey when she founded the first Red Cross Club at her high school, serving as President for the past three years. Named Bolles’ Best New Club of the Year, The Bolles Red Cross Club and its members set a precedent for community service for Florida high schools with fundraisers, such as candy gram deliveries, bake sales, and flower sales during holidays.

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Maria’s favorite aspects of working with the Red Cross include volunteer outreach and fundraising.

Maria was named the Red Cross Northeast Florida Youth Volunteer of the Year in 2015. The same year, she was named to her school’s President’s List, which recognizes students that have made a significant contribution in the area of service beyond the level of performance expected of a Bolles student and whose community-mindedness, hard work, and spirit stand out.

Aside from the Red Cross, Maria tutors in foreign languages and hosts international students, volunteers for local hospitals, is a certified babysitter, a National Hispanic Scholar, and serves as captain of the Varsity Crew team at her school.

Maria looks forward to lifelong involvement with the Red Cross and plans to pursue a career in medicine, while continuing her studies in Chinese, French, and Spanish. Contact Maria at mimuzaurieta.nyc@gmail.com.

For a full list of current National Youth Council members, click here.

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MAY THE LAW BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR: THE HUNGER GAMES AND IHL

Katniss-The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-2

Image courtesy of celebwallpix.com and The Hunger Games franchise.

In “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” fans finally see whether Katniss, the series’ determined heroine, can successfully steer the rebelling districts towards victory against President Snow, the Capitol autocracy’s brutal leader.

Katniss, Gale (her fellow soldier and love interest), and other characters struggle to define what, if any, limits exist during war. Had international humanitarian law (IHL) – a body of law that seeks to limit the harmful effects of armed conflict – existed in their world, they would have been able to determine some of those limits. Here are three examples of how IHL shows up in the most recent Hunger Games installment:

Warning: Potential Spoilers!

 1) Treatment of Civilians

 I’m sure she wasn’t gunning for your sister, but these things happen in war. – President Snow

Katniss and Gale hold an extended debate over whether it is appropriate to harm civilians during war. Gale believes that no one who supports the Capitol is innocent and, due to Snow’s torture of Peeta, any measures taken by the Rebellion are justified. Katniss reminds Gale that killing is always personal, the Rebellion must remain morally above the Capitol’s inhumane tactics, and ultimately those orchestrating the fight are responsible for their actions – not civilians.

While IHL does allow for civilian injury in some circumstances (often the term “collateral damage” is used), intentionally attacking civilians is never permitted unless they are participating in the hostilities. The bombing of children and other civilians seeking refuge in Snow’s mansion, staged by the Rebellion and pinned on the Capitol, did not follow this rule. Although the attack ended the war, it had disastrous consequences, including the death of Katniss’ sister, Prim. Both sides condemned the bombing, for even Snow’s soldiers had families that were in harm’s way.

 2) Heinous Weapons

We will turn their advance into a celebration of suffering. – President Snow

The Capitol’s continued use of “Pods,” essentially enhanced landmines, results in multiple injuries and deaths in Katniss’ unit of Rebellion fighters. The pods are planted every ten steps across the Capitol and are set off by stepping on a ground trigger.  They use everything from wall-mounted machine guns to flame torches and floods of oil to maim and kill.

IHL bans weapons, like Pods, that cause unnecessary suffering to fighters. This principle aims to eliminate excess pain and injury that is not necessary to win the war. While everyone injured or killed by the Pods in the film were members of the Rebellion, the Pods could have killed civilians as well. If left intact, they could remain a hazard for decades to come. IHL maintains that when landmines are used, particular care must be taken to minimize their indiscriminate effects for precisely this reason.

3) Child Soldiers

With that kind of thinking you can kill whoever [sic] you want. You can send kids off to the Hunger Games to keep the Districts in line. – Katniss

Due to the mature actors cast in “Mockingjay Part 2,” it is easy to forget the original abhorrent premise of the Hunger Games – the use of child soldiers, which is prohibited by IHL and other bodies of law.[1] The Hunger Games movie series, and other popular films such as Ender’s Game, often end by painting child soldiers in a heroic light, celebrating their eventual victory over their oppressors (i.e. Katniss defeats Snow). However, this outcome is unique to the dystopian fiction genre.

It is estimated that over 250,000 children are currently recruited as soldiers.[2]  Often these children do not achieve such a happy ending. Both Katniss and Peeta show symptoms of posttraumatic stress after fighting and being subject to torture – including nightmares and hallucinations – but eventually receive medical treatment. However, children caught in real-world conflicts often do not escape. Or if they do, the resources to process their trauma are not always available.

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While the laws of our world do not extend to fictional Panem, the characters in “Mockingjay” bring some of IHL’s rules, principles, and debates to life.  The Hunger Games shows us that without rules of war, the battlefield is simply an arena – so may the law be ever in your favor.

 

[1] There are multiple international legal standards protecting children from military recruitment or use in hostilities. Some outlaw the involvement of children under age 15 in hostilities, while some raise the standard of age to 18.  This is an ongoing debate. Katniss was 16 at the time of her participation in the 74th Hunger Games (the first movie). For more information on international legal standards regulating the recruitment and use of child soldiers, see: http://www.child-soldiers.org/international_standards.php.

[2] See: https://www.warchild.org.uk/issues/child-soldiers.

 

Written By: Alexa Magee

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