Kaytlin Hilton Krchnavy, a senior English education major from Emporia State who is currently student teaching at Emporia High School, is leading her 36students in a project that focuses on Congolese refugees.
“I really wanted to give my first students an opportunity to see skills that they’re going to be using in the workforce or college or if they join the army,” Hilton Krchnavy said. “Just different skills that kids are going to need as they transition into adulthood.”
The project was inspired by the book “How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child” by Sandra Uwiringiyimana, who is a Congolese refugee herself. Students read the book in Hilton Krchnavy’s class and then she gave them supplemental research so they could take the project outside of the classroom and present it to the community.
The students are in their junior year and have different committees that go from graphic design to marketing and publicity to move the project forward. Thes tudents will present the project in their high school and to the city of Emporia to bring awareness to the situation.
“Just learning more about daily life and the people, what they go through has really been eye opening,” said Olivia Eckert, a junior at Emporia High School and member of the committee of graphic design in the Congolese refugee’s project. “We don’t face a lot of that here in the United States. So, bringing awareness to that I feel is definitely important.”
In 2003, The Democratic Republic of the Congo concluded a five year civil war. However, since 2017 the security in the country has deteriorated.
“Human rights violations are still widespread, including physical mutilation, killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention in inhumane conditions,” according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees report.
In light of this, many people have made the decision to leave the country. Five million Congolese people have been displaced and are in a refugee status, ac-cording to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Aside from informing the public of what Congolese refugees are going through, the project also focuses on ways people can help them.
“It’s a lot of advocating on behalf of those in places where they maybe can’t advocate for themselves,” said Nathan Hollenbeck, a junior at Emporia High Schooland member of the marketing and publicity committee. “Just trying to help them.”
Part of the project is asking people to donate to certain organizations that are helping Congolese refuges and that students had based their research on, such as World Vision International, The Save the Children Fund, Project HOPE and The United Nations Refugee Agency, among others.
The project will be finished with an article remarking on the research students did and will be published on Feb. 23. Following publication, students will publicize their work through local media such as newspapers, radio stations and the public service announcements at the high school in order to reach out to the community.
“Hopefully, people can see it and learn about it.” said Hollenbeck. “A little bit more than just educate themselves, like donating or opening up in some way."