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Change Begins at Home Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jameson M. Berkow, Canada Jul 12, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Education   Opinions


The right to receive a basic education is the right of every human being. For over 50 years the U.N. has backed this statement, but by making it the second of eight millennium development goals to be achieved by 2015, they have finally turned it into a realistic objective rather than just another pleasant thought.
All across the developed world people are at last realizing that achieving this ambitious goal must begin at home. Even in Kingston, a fairly affluent southeastern Ontario community that has supported a well funded public education system for well over a century; more and more people are grasping this idea and are beginning to shoulder their share of the responsibility.
Joanna Sue and Alvin Shin are two such people. Inspired in the summer of 2005 by a simple subway advertisement in Toronto, the two Queens University students came up with a plan of action. After co-founding the Queens D.R.E.A.M. Foundation (Discover the Reality of Educating All Minds) in the fall of last year, the two 3rd year undergrads decided to hold an event that would force their infant organization and its cause into the spotlight.
The episode called for two D.R.E.A.M. members to rope themselves off in an area of less than 10m2 in the front foyer of Joseph S. Stauffer Library (Queens’ central library) and stage a “sit-in” for ten days straight beginning January 26th. Once again demonstrating their total resolve, Sue and Shin volunteered personally for this demanding assignment. The pair even insisted that their activities be available to public scrutiny 24-hours a day via a live web cam broadcast from www.queensdream.org. Shin described the event as, “an endurance race with global education as the grand prize.”
The goal of the event was to raise the necessary sum required for the group to complete the first major project that it had been assigned by its parent organization, Room to Read Canada; the funding of the first Cambodian public school computer lab to be opened at Angkor High School in the province of Siem Reap. The lab was completed in December of last year but has since been waiting on the necessary funds to maintain its operation.
Despite the team’s inability to gain corporate sponsorship in the short timeframe they had been allotted, the pair’s enthusiasm had a contagious effect on campus, and before the end of their first day of voluntary imprisonment they had accepted personal donations from students, staff and faculty alike.
The greater Kingston community, clearly captivated by the lengths these young activists were willing to go in the hopes of making a difference, featured the pair twice on local television news broadcasts as well as in a notable Kingston daily (the Kingston Whig-Standard). By the end of the week Joanna and Alvin were accepting donations from literally hundreds of different people from all walks of life; by their 9th encaged day they had accumulated over $7000, enough to fund Angkor High School’s computer lab for over a year.
The United Nations have set eight very ambitious goals for itself and has given itself only a short time in which to see them through. They are going to need many more people who share Joanna and Alvin’s idea of a global consciousness, because without them they cannot succeed.



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Jameson M. Berkow

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