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"To Walk in their Shoes" explores students' perspectives on war, genocide and human rights

“To Walk in their Shoes,” is the title for OCTECHS recent student symposium on war, genocide and human rights. The February 2 event culminated months of research with project presentations and two guest speakers.

Since 2018, OCTECHS English teacher Shelley Wagner, NBCT, has received an Education Foundation of Odessa grant to take her juniors to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in Dallas, and afterward had them produce a reflective project.

This year students began researching topics interesting to them well before the trip to the museum. The trip gave them the means to gather new information and pictures to support their research papers, which were published on their own class website. Mrs. Wagner arranged a student symposium this year as a way for the public to learn about the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum through the students’ eyes.

In addition to the grant, school funding, fund raisers and parent donations helped the class bring in Providence Nkurunziza, a child survivor of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, and she, in turn, invited Dr. Richard Quinlan from St. Elizabeth University to speak on the 10 stages of genocide.

This project also reached across curriculum lines, as students produced their presentation boards and developed their symposium presentations in Mark Perales’ US History class where students study World War II and Human Rights issues in the spring semester.  

“Our goal is to continue to grow the symposium,” said Mrs. Wagner. “We would love for other schools to participate in the research and display their own work at the symposium.”


Student typing on laptap beside project display      the guest speakers and Mrs. Wagner