Summer was a time of learning for local teacher, Darcey Voyles. The Tuscola
Community High School English teacher was selected to attend the 2019 Summer Institute held annually at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Voyles paid the Institute tuition herself but was awarded a grant for travel expenses, available through the Museum in partnership with the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights.
The topic of this year’s intense, three-day seminar was Teaching Contemporary Genocides in the Classroom, something Voyles has been doing for years in her dual credit English 101 classes.
During the various sessions, Institute participants explored ramifications of prejudice and discrimination, racism and indifference, and the role of the individual in nurturing and protecting democratic values and human rights.
Voyles and other educators investigated key political, social, and economic factors that impacted the times that culminated in contemporary genocides, using Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Syria, and Myanmar (the Rohingya) as case studies. Various scholars and eye witnesses spoke about responses to genocide, prevention, and justice.
The highlight for Voyles was the moving testimony of Immaculee Mukantaganira, a Tutsi survivor of 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Immaculee recounted her heart-wrenching experience during the 100-day massacre. In closing her time with the Institute participants, Immaculee first thanked the educators for recognizing the gravity of teaching such a complex topic and lastly implored them to not be silent – to share her story. And that is what Voyles intends to do with her students.