From the Campus to the Battlefield

Grecia Ocampo, Cazzie Reyes, Vickie Berkow, Olivia Hollis, Joshua Hatler and Eileen Prescott (Photo by Duane Zehr)

May 5, 2014

This year’s Red Cross International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign focused on child soldiers and international justice. Bradley University students joined their counterparts across the country in creating projects that showcase how those around the world can maintain human dignity in times of conflict. Bradley’s campaign was selected as one of the best, and as a result students will compete nationally on June 5-8 at the National IHL Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, DC.

Dr. Jeanie Bukowski, Associate Professor, Bradley University Institute of International Studies said she is proud of the students’ accomplishment. “These young leaders went above and beyond even our highest expectations all year, in their passionate and knowledgeable campaign to raise awareness of child soldiers and IHL. They have indeed given a voice to the voiceless, and Bradley's campus owes them a debt of gratitude.”

Casmeer Reyes, Eileen Prescott, Victoria Berkow, and Grecia Ocampo, students at Bradley University, were selected, trained and supported by the Central Illinois Chapter of the Red Cross as IHL Action Campaign Team Leaders. They spent the past academic year educating their peers about IHL rules, principles and values. They were also the lead in planning the group’s campaign. They facilitated hands-on, interactive sessions that had the teens playing the roles of captor and captive, leader and civilian and ultimately being “tried” for their actions at a tribunal. After discussing their experiences, these determined learners put their creativity to the test and, in the process, educated others on what they had learned through their campaigns.

“For these students, putting themselves into the shoes of prisoners of war, military leaders and refugees really makes them think twice about how people should be treated during conflict,” said Anne Fox, CEO, American Red Cross Central Illinois Region.

The promotion of human dignity during times of armed conflict—including protections for civilians, wounded and sick combatants and prisoners of war—is at the cornerstone of IHL and at the heart of the Red Cross mission. The campaign engages youth on exactly this issue, teaching that “even wars have limits.” This is the first year Bradley University has participated in this program.

To learn more about the IHL Action Campaign program, visit redcross.org/rulesofwar.