Institute News

IWitness Publishes “The Bystander Effect” Activity about the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Students all over the world can now complete an IWitness activity about the dangers of being a bystander that was first piloted in the United States and Rwanda.

In The Bystander Effect – Rwanda, students develop an understanding of what it means to be a bystander and its potential impact in the context of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. 

Students watch a number of testimonies from witnesses to and survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda who describe the consequences of the bystander effect in their own lives. Students construct a social media message for the #BeginsWithMe campaign that describes their own plan to counter bystander behavior.

Middle- and high school students at Solomon Schechter Day School in New Jersey and College Saint Andre in Rwanda piloted the activity simultaneously in June 2015, even Skyping and instant-messaging each other at the beginning of the lesson.

In Florida, Inverness Middle School language arts teachers Lauren Fenech and Steffanie Grotz also recently completed the activity with their students and said their students were profoundly moved by what they learned.

#BeginsWithMe is USC Shoah Foundation’s social media campaign that encourages people to share what they will do or have done to share the power of testimony and encourage tolerance in their own communities.