Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Teen Summit on the Sept. 11, 2001, Attack on America

by Jacquelyn Poplawsky, Majors: psychology & communication
by Katie Kroll, Majors: economics & sociology

According to our original proposal, our intent in this summit was to further educate the students of Georgetown High School in respect to international terrorism, focusing on the September 11, 2001 attacks on America. According to Youth Voice: A Guide for Engaging Youth in Leadership, “youth summits are a powerful tool for engaging young people in discussion and action around issues and concerns important to them. They provide young people an opportunity to voice their concerns and develop possible solutions.” As students at Southwestern, we were extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in open dialogues following the terrorist attacks during teach-ins or class sessions. We wanted to extend that opportunity to high schools; through facilitated discussion by professors and Southwestern students educated and experiences in related fields, we hoped to better equip high school students to become effective leaders of the future. Our purpose in planning and holding this summit was to enhance the education and understanding of the high school students involved and in turn the Georgetown community, as well as the Southwestern community. The current War on Terrorism, we felt and still feel, will leave a lasting mark on our generation; thus it is imperative to the future well being of our country to understand the far-reaching effects of this trial. Our goal was to inspire students, then, now, and in years to come, to be involved in their community by fostering open dialogue and forums for expression.
On November 15, 2001, the Youth International Awareness Summit brought 68 Georgetown High School students to the Southwestern campus for the day-long event. We opened the day with a large group discussion, during which we set goals and ground rules. Twenty Southwestern students, all having gone through a training session the week prior, divided the high school students into nine groups and led a workshop on conflict resolution. We pulled the entire group together again for a panel discussion led by five Southwestern professors: Eric Selbin, Lisa Leff, Dan Hilliard, Peter Gottschalk, and Jack Green Musselman. Each professor spoke for ten minutes about the September 11th attacks, on a topic related to their department, and then fielded questions from the students. The students loved listening to the professors, and even kept them talking through lunch, as the professors ate box lunches with the students. Following lunch, the high schoolers’ again divided into their groups, and the facilitators led an hour long open-discussion, during which the students were able to freely reflect on any topic pertaining to the panel or attacks on America that they felt was important. We ended the summit by bringing everyone together again to reflect upon the day, discuss opinions that were contradicting to or new to what the students believed prior to the summit, and evaluate how beneficial the day had been. Overall, the summit was a success. The facilitators enjoyed their participation with the summit, and as the organizers, we felt the work was well worth it. We were able to witness the students opening up to new ideas and working with college students and professors to examine an important issue in all of our lives.