Thursday, December 24, 2009

update on Sierra Leone youth and invitation to you

Dear friends,
At this holiday season, we wish you special greetings. To our friends and those we have yet to meet, all of whom signed on to Bob and Betty’s Sierra Leone blog, we hope 2010 is a wonderful, productive, and peaceful new year.
This is to update you on a couple of positive things that have happened regarding Sierra Leone and to invite you to continue staying in touch if you want to (If you do, just hit reply and write YES in subject line or message area). We are also posting this on our Sierra Leone blog at

And since it is really ‘your’ blog, please add comments (or if that proves cumbersome on the blog, send them to,), news, travels, remarks on international events. It would be nice to have an open forum.

1. Survivors for Human Rights. Since we returned from our academic year in Sierra Leone, Betty has worked with the Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties at the University of Southern Mississippi to create a web page for student survivors of conflict.

The idea is to link Sierra Leone and other students globally to share their stories of survival as well as their hopes, plans, and progress toward greater world respect for human rights. You can see the page at; then click on Project 1991, the year the civil war there began. Please send Betty comments at The students were among members of my two human rights classes in Freetown.

2. Sierra Leone calendars. The photos so many of you enjoyed of school children in Sierra Leone are now available for sale as a fundraiser for more schools in Sierra Leone. Betty donated her photos to Schools for Sierra Leone who made a 2010 calendar. You can purchase it for $15, and after the $3 production costs, all the rest goes to building more schools. Go to

One of Bob’s former students, Raven Wilke, raised more than $800 for the school project in one evening. Betty and I have visited some of the schools. Cindy Nofziger is the U.S.-based director; her colleague works and lives in Sierra Leone.

3. Please stay in touch. Finally, if you would like to continue receiving occasional emails about new blog postings on (a) updates regarding Sierra Leone projects above; (b) – and this is a shift: bob’s teaching, please send an email response back saying YES.

Bob taught a “democratic’ class this fall in which students chose topics to discuss, format for the discussions, and grades. The issues included national security, national health care, affirmative action, gay rights – all chosen by the students. Discussions were civil, informative, and factually-based with sourced information. Now he is seeking ways to instill that kind of student ‘ownership’ of classes into his upper-level seminars. Stay tuned. Bye for now.


Blind Historian said...

Hey Bob
As a student I was always inspired by your class. Bob, your class changed my life. As I explored some of the assignments in my class, my eyes were opened to the politics all over the world. I have started my blog and most of it stems from what I learned in your classroom. I just hope that one day I can accomplish what you have done in your life. How can I get a copy of some of these photographs? Is there a website that I can order from? Don’t forget to look at my blog. I have one follower! Maybe you could help with that. Let me know. You have my email. I wish nothing but blessings on you both.

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