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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 22, 2008

PHOTOS: Students participate in the 2007 International Day Human Rights Conference. Photos by Myriam Fallon

Iowa students will discuss human right to childhood at International Day Oct. 29

More than 300 elementary and middle school students from across eastern Iowa and western Illinois will have the opportunity to learn that not all children enjoy the same quality of life and opportunities that they do -- and what they can do to make a difference.

The University of Iowa College of Education and UI International Programs are organizing the 12th Annual International Day Human Rights Conference for 305 area elementary and middle school students. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville. The theme for this year's conference is "The Human Right to Childhood."

Highlights include an interactive call and response drum performance, which will be led by Dan Moore, a professor from the UI School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, starting at noon. Keynote speaker Ishmael Beah, author of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of Boy Solider," will talk about his experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The students, along with 24 teachers, will watch the films "Amnesty International" and "Invisible Children," which deal with the practice of child soldiering.

International Day invites participants to take part in small- and large-group discussions and activities focused on human rights and international issues, and, as a result, learn about different cultural, ethnic, racial and socio-economic groups. The event is intended to help students become better global citizens and to develop a greater understanding of -- and respect for -- democracy, equality, cultural differences and human rights.

"The goal is to encourage Iowa students to consider the plight of children in other cultures, and even within their own communities who do not enjoy the same amenities necessary to live a quality life," said Greg Hamot (photo, lower left), professor of secondary social studies education in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the University of Iowa College of Education. Hamot, who is the faculty sponsor of the event, was also recently named the new director of the UI Center for Human Rights.

"Bringing the knowledge that not all children receive the same opportunities may move the audience to recognize the importance of this issue as they develop into decision makers in their communities, the nation and the world," Hamot said.

Students will also participate in two interactive breakout sessions, choosing from 15 different sessions led by a variety of notable speakers. Jeremy Brigham, an adjunct assistant professor of international studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will host a session on "Child Labor, Child Work and Human Rights." Stanley Foundation member Jill Goldsberry will discuss "Youth Service Around the World." Kate Kauper, a doctoral student in educational policy and leadership studies in the UI College of Education, will present an interactive workshop on "Human Rights in the News and Around the World."

The conference was planned and sponsored by the following UI offices and departments: the College of Education (COE) and COE Diversity Committee, International Programs, Center for Human Rights, the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the Office of Admissions. Additional sponsorship comes from the Stanley Foundation and Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

Participating schools include the following: Franklin Middle School, Harding Middle School and McKinley Middle School, Cedar Rapids; Central Middle School, Clinton; Columbus Community Schools, Columbus Junction; Longfellow and Hoover Elementary Schools, Iowa City Community School District; West and Central Middle Schools, Muscatine; Glenview Middle School, East Moline, Ill.; Mt. Vernon Middle School, Mt. Vernon; Louisa-Muscatine Community School District; North Cedar School District; and Jesup Middle School.

For more information about International Day and to view photos from last year's conference visit

For more information or a complete schedule of events, contact Teresa Garringer in the UI College of Education at 319-335-6289 or Buffy Quintero, UI International Programs, at 319-335-0345.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Greg Hamot, College of Education,; Teresa Garringer, College of Education, 319-335-0345,; Lois Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Caroline Jones