By Ivy He
My name is Ivy, and I’d like to share my story about how humane education has changed my life. I’m a current student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon as well as an international student from China. In November 2014, I attended a workshop taught by Claire Howe, a humane educator and the Portland program coordinator for HEART. She taught us how to respect the rights of one another, animals and the natural world, and she introduced how ethics should be reflected in curriculum and incorporated into the classroom. I was hugely impressed by the power of humane education and very inspired by that one presentation. I realized halfway through the presentation that humane education was something all students need, especially Chinese students. I decided right then and there to take humane education back to China.
Chinese education for students of all ages is completely test-oriented. My hometown, Hefei, lacks the advantages of city development so students go through strict education with fewer opportunities than other more prosperous cities. As China continues to quickly develop as a state, many social problems are emerging in the areas of animal protection, environmental preservation, and human morality. At an early age, I felt that some things were not right, and this caused a lot of anxiety. For a long time I have been looking for a way to use my skills and passion to contribute to the causes I care about. Through humane education, I have found a phenomenally effective path to raise awareness and empower people to take actions regarding important social issues.
I founded my own organization, “Humaneness 101” this year, and I aim to promote humane education in China. I’ve recruited college and high school students, and I am training them to be instructors or teaching assistants. This year, we will run a six-day summer camp in my hometown and work on a series of promotional efforts. I think that many, if not all, social issues are the result of a lack of proper education. Through this program, I want to promote a comprehensive study of social justice that fosters compassion and empathy by educating students about animal ethics, environmental sustainability, global issues, and initiative-taking skills that can connect youth to the global community and allow them to become empowered citizens.
I’ve been interning with HEART since this past winter. Seeing how the kids, even the teachers, were changed by humane education reinforced my belief in education and humanity. I am also very passionate about HEART’s vision in regard to legislative activism and the creation of a more active humane education movement. As humane education organizations and activists work together, we can have a phenomenal global impact.