Andrew Beiter - April 6 Chapel
Andrew Beiter gave a compelling chapel presentation on April 6. Andrew is the co-founder and board president of the Educators' Institute for Human Rights in Rwanda (Carl Wilkins who spoke to the community on Dec. 16, 2014 is also a board member), the founder of the Summer Institute for Human Rights and Genocide Studies of Buffalo, a regional education coordinator for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a consultant for Kerry Kennedy's "Speak Truth to Power" program, the co-education director of the Robert H. Jackson Center, and the coordinator for the Next Generation Education Initiatives of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo. He teaches social studies in Buffalo, New York.
Andrew's overarching goal is to educate students by broadening their knowledge of historical mass genocide. "I come to you not as an expert but as a human being," he began. His humble yet unique approach to teaching the devastating effects of genocide and its aftermath was demonstrated by an exercise involving a Jerry can full of water. Andrew asked Suffield students to pass the can around the Chapel while thinking about the children in Africa who carry these multiple times a day. "Put yourselves in their shoes," he commented. After showing Water is Life's "First World Problems" video on YouTube, Andrew then said, "I can tell by your silence that you get it: we live in a beautiful world here."
Saturday, April 11 marks the 70th anniversary of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp liberation and Andrew showed a powerful scene from "Band of Brothers." Students and faculty were asked to ponder the question of how educated people could make such horrific and catastrophic decisions. "Just because you're educated doesn't mean you're going to make the best decisions," he noted. Andrew highlighted the importance of intelligence and
character, and guided the community through another activity: writing down their talents, their causes, and eventually their event. What can they do now to make a change? "Why not have a sweet 16 party that creates a well in Africa?" he offered. His three pieces of advice—which he hopes will change our world—are to ask every student to work backwards from their deathbed (i.e., how they would like to be remembered?); find their issue and passion; and start small but dream big.