- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

CAMAS, Wash. (AP) - Tiara Naidu and Katie Blair feel like their Camas High School classmates are getting more aware of social issues around the world.

“It’s on their timelines; they can’t not see it,” said Naidu, 16. “They’re gaining more of a consciousness about it.”

The two also see it at weekly International Human Rights Club meetings, where the Camas High School juniors are two of five officers with the club. Last year, the club had about seven regular meetings, and this year they can get about 20 people to meetings.

“I’m really big on making sure everyone knows what’s going on in the world,” said Blair, 16.

Naidu and Blair are going to have a chance to talk with fellow students from around the world in March to learn more about current events, as they are two of 40 teen delegates picked to represent the United States at the United Nations’ 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women, to be held March 13 to 17 in New York City.

The theme of this year’s commission is “Economic Empowerment.” The two girls will attend lectures and workshops, possibly speak at different events and sit in on panels. They’ll also get a private tour of the U.N. open only to delegates from the commission.

They also hope to bring some ideas back for future meetings with the Human Rights Club, reported The Columbian (https://bit.ly/2kkNfmH).

Naidu said she’d like the club to host more events with more involvement with other students. Blair said that while club members tend to lean more liberal, she’d welcome people with other perspectives to the club for discussion.

“This is not some liberal club we started on a whim,” Blair said. “These are issues we care about and think you should, too.”

While both said they think the recent political landscape has helped increase awareness of current events among their peers, that’s not really the focus of meetings.

“It’s not a politics club,” Blair said. “It’s a human rights club.”

At meetings, club members give half-hour presentations about human rights issues around the world. Some meeting topics have included ethnic cleansing and genital mutilation. However, the two said they have discussed topics closer to home more recently, including abortion, LGBTQIA issues and Planned Parenthood.

“We’ve talked about immigration recently,” Naidu said. “A few of us in the club have parents who immigrated here, so we’ve talked about their experiences.”

Blair said she wants the club to feel more inclusive, which the officers started to do this year by changing its name. In its first two years, it was known as Girls Learn International.

“There was some confusion from students about who could come and what we talked about,” Blair said. “We’re not concerned with just girls’ rights. This is about everyone.”

The club still falls under the Girls Learn International umbrella. Naidu said the club has also done a better job this year of getting the word out about meetings.

“We see a lot of people bringing friends, and those friends continue coming to meetings,” she said.

The club also shows documentaries about various human rights issues. At an upcoming meeting, it will screen “13th,” the Ava DuVernay film about race and mass incarceration.

Naidu and Blair have a GoFundMe page to raise money for their upcoming trip to New York.


Information from: The Columbian, https://www.columbian.com

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