Awareness Week at James Madison University
Issue 4.1 | February 2000 | Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.
of the goals of the Mine Action Information Center (MAIC) is to use all of
the resources available to it because of its collegiate setting. The central
offices of MAIC share a building on the James Madison University campus with
students, professors and daily classes. One of the major benefits of this
humanitarian programís location is the potential for student involvement in
the very urgent issue of demining. MAIC recently experienced a significant
amount of student involvement and curiosity when political science and geography
students combined to organize Demining Education Week.
the first week of November 1999, every JMU student who walked through the
commons in front of the dining hall had to ask "What are these red Xís
and why are they scattered everywhere?" The red Xís were the brainchild
of the group of students responsible for demining education week. "There
are going to be red Xís on the commons and we arenít going to tell people
until later in the week that they actually represent landmines so that the
students will understand how easy it is to step on one," junior Jen McKeever
said. After learning that the Xís represented landmines, it was staggering
for students to realize how many normal activities, such as riding a bike
or walking a dog are affected by landmines. Later in the week, students could
hear speakers such as Tom Smith, from the Department of Defense, and MAICís
own Joe Lokey.
by the students, the Demining Awareness Week atmosphere was not as somber
as its subject was, and publicity for the event was similar to advertising
for other student activities. On one of the warmest days of the week in November,
students swarmed around the landmine awareness booth to see what all the hype
was about. The Franklins, a local folk band, played for the day and spoke
about landmine statistics in between songs. At the awareness table, the students
handed out free landmine-awareness comic books and sold green ribbons for
donations to Landmine Survivorís Network. Many JMU students showed interest
in initiating an Adopt-A-Minefield program at the university. To date, MAIC
has involved over 70 JMU students with their efforts. For students, the four
years spent in college present many important social issues from which to
pick and choose. With MAIC and its agenda front and center on the college
campus, who knows how many JMU students will graduate, and later contribute
to the humanitarian effort of demining.
of State Madeline Albright said
of MAIC at JMU, "James Madison Universityís Mine Action Information Center
has grown into far more than a clearinghouse for knowledge. It is expanding
the boundaries of knowledge about a host of mine-related topics. We have some
80 professors and students at the University to thank for that."