It started with one workshop.
When Mark Gudgel and Drew Beiter conceived of the Educators' Institute for Human Rights in June of 2011, they had a simple idea: to share what they'd learned and be open to learning from others. As Museum Teacher Fellows (MTF) at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, they'd trained on best practices in Holocaust education with a world renowned institution. How could they pass that experience to others?
The week the video below was filmed, before they'd even named their idea, Mark, Drew, and their friends, Kate English and Kim Klett, were in DC for an MTF Regional Education Corps (REC) training session with colleagues at the USHMM. By the end of the week, they'd all be boarding planes to different sites to research and explore the relationship between education and the prevention of mass atrocities. What role could education play, not only in prevention, but in rebuilding community in the wake of such horrors? As Mark and Drew prepared for that first workshop in Kigali, Kate was heading to Srebrenica with the same questions in mind. They pulled her aside and invited her to join in their work.
The idea becomes reality
In the years since, EIHR has held teacher trainings every year in Rwanda. We've built partnerships and programming through Education Summits in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we've partnered with the DC Cam to deliver training in Cambodia. Our staff includes educators and other professionals from across the US, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and South America, and our board of directors includes survivors, scholars, leaders, and friends from around the globe.
Drew serves on our Board of Directors, and Mark stepped aside as his family grew. Kate has become the Executive Director, and Kim stepped in as her Deputy.
Mark and Drew's original vision for EIHR has always been lofty, reflecting their passion for human rights and recognizing the humanity in all of us. They could see that teachers had a role to play in repairing the world, and challenged educators to step up and participate.
As we continue to grow, we're all grateful that Drew and Mark could articulate and implement what we couldn't even imagine.