In order to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I’ve invited a series of guests to contribute blog posts about ways in which their campuses or organizations are working to create teachable moments with which to engage students in conversations about the effects of 9/11 on our democracy and ways we can work collectively as informed, engaged citizens to affect positive change in our society.
In today’s blog post, Karen Showalter from Americans for Informed Democracy, shares with us her organization’s plans to commemorate the tragedies of September 11, 2001 by not only remembering what happened 10 years ago, but also by engaging in dialogue about what we want our country to look like 10 years from now.
– Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project
By Karen Showalter, Executive Director, Americans for Informed Democracy
Ten years after 9/11, our country and our planet face incredible challenges. We can do better, and our generation can make it happen.
Americans for Informed Democracy (AIDemocracy) was founded after 9/11 to help young people discuss the U.S. role in the world. Ten years later, this conversation is more important than ever.
This coming Sunday please take a few minutes to remember those we lost in 2001, and as a result of our subsequent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then think about what you can do to build a better world, one that is more peaceful, just, healthy, and sustainable. We have the power and the obligation to make it happen.
Our Be2021 campaign offers some easy and powerful ways to bring this conversation home, from opportunities for personal reflection to event ideas that will inspire campus action. These are all events/actions that you can do at any point this academic year. Check them out and let us know if you’d like to get involved.
- Be…Visionary. Declare your vision for what *you* and *we* should be in another ten years, on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, on the Be2021 website. We are collecting 20,000 youth visions this year, which will form a basis for a millennial roadmap for the next decade.
- Be…Reflective. Share your 9/11 story. What do the moment and the anniversary mean to you? How have they changed your worldview and your life path? During the month of September we are featuring testimonials from students and young professionals on the AIDemocracy website. Check them out, and contact us to get started.
At the campus level:
- Be…Empowered. Build the skills to lead our country and our planet into the future. Organize a global leadership and advocacy workshop on your campus. We can provide materials and trainers.
- Be…Understanding. Screen a funny or serious film exposing the varied experiences of Muslims in America. In partnership with Unity Productions Foundation, we are proud to offer five different films available for screening on your campus: Prince Among Slaves, Talking Through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque Unites a Community, On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly, Allah Made Me Funny, and Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. We’ll provide the resources to get you started.
- Be…Connected. Share with and learn from young people across the globe. Facilitate videochats around common challenges facing our generation like jobs, climate and health. AIDemocracy can help arrange and facilitate.
- Be…Inspired. Screen the movie Love Hate Love, which follows the journeys of three families whose lives were shattered by terrorism. Love Hate Love follows these survivors as they search for honor, meaning, and a new life’s path. This film is offered through a special partnership with the filmmakers and the family of Peter Alderman.
- Be…the Future. Organize a workshop to help your peers / organization envision what they want the world to look like in 2021, and lay the groundwork for making that vision a reality. This event is nicely paired with the Be…Empowered event above. We’ll provide the support to get started.
- Be…Informed. Gather your peers to discuss global challenges ranging from poverty to violent extremism. Explore what we can do as youth, as a country, and as a planet to set a better course for the next decade. This event can take the form of a panel, workshop, film or guest speaker. AIDemocracy will provide suggestions on format and speakers, and advice on how to make it all happen.
- Be…Equal. Explore the specific challenges facing women and girls worldwide, including education, health, and child marriage. International non-profit organization CARE will send expert speakers to 5 campuses to kick off the conversation, as part of Be2021. We will also offer facilitation tips, guiding questions, supporting readings and media, and more.
- Be…United. Organize a Campus Unity Walk. Bring members of your campus community together to celebrate religious and cultural diversity. Tour religious and cultural institutions in the community, witness services and rituals, explore traditions, taste food, enjoy music, and more. We’ll provide the support to get you started.
- Be…? Come up with your own event! Let us know your ideas and we’ll help you make them happen.
Contact Patrick for more information, or to get started!
At the national level:
- Lead this movement. Our Be2021 campaign will lead AIDemocracy’s work around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, inspiring reflection and action throughout the 2011-12 academic year. We need all of the help we can get. Contact us if you’re interested in helping out.
Thank you for helping us make the most of this important moment. Together we can be something powerful. Contact us to discuss or get started with any of the ideas above!