Gaining perspective on the Rohingya crisis

Posted: 10 August 2018


Students from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in America held a video conference with representatives from Chittagong Grammar School in Bangladesh to learn more about the Rohingya crisis from the perspective of those living in Bangladesh.

Author and position: Zia Golam Mohiuddin, Round Square Representative, Senior Administrator, CIE Coordinator, MUN Coordinator

Schools: Chittagong Grammar School is a co-educational Day school serving over 3500 students across six campuses in Bangladesh. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School is a college-preparatory day school in Atlanta, Georgia, United States for students ages 3 through 12th grade.


The Rohingya are one of the many ethnic minority communities who once lived in the country of Myanmar (Burma). Over 700,000 people have fled the country following a period of continued persecution, a situation described by the United Nations as the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis”. Most have fled to Bangladesh with an urgent need for provisions, safe drinking water, food, shelter and healthcare.

Students from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in America were eager to have an open discussion about this issue and share experiences and opinions from a domestic and international perspective. The discussion was facilitated by the Assistant Director of Global Studies and acted as an introduction to a Global Citizenship & International Relations class.


The video call was scheduled for October 25, 2017. Students from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School submitted questions in advance of the call.


The discussion took place via Zoom. 22 students from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School participated and addressed questions to Faizah Ibnat, leader of the Chittagong Grammar School Alumni team for the Rohingya aid project, and Salman Sattar, the school’s Round Square Student Chair.

The questions included:


There were no challenges with this activity.


The benefit to Chittagong Grammar School was huge. It put the spotlight on a project led by our alumni, working alongside the school administration, teachers, students and parents, to raise awareness and aid for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. This project was led by Faizah Ibnat who was very happy to share her thoughts and honest insight with the Holy Innocents’ students. These have been helpful for the students to start their own method of protest and service for the refugees.

Following the Zoom call, Holy Innocents’ students continued to discuss the suffering of the Rohingya, the strains on Bangladesh, and ways they could respond with action. The Assistant Director of Global Studies wanted the students to come up with their own ideas of ways to respond. Although they were unable to initiate a fundraising campaign on such short notice (a school policy), the students came up with other ways to engage.

They had read that the U.S. government has not yet formally declared the violence in Myanmar as genocide, a declaration that would result in legal consequences the US government would be required to take against Myanmar. It transpired that several of their students’ families had connections to senators—one of them is the neighbor of a student!

The students developed information to share with other students and invited their support for a petition to categorise the situation as ‘genocide’. This included a video made by an 11th grade Global student:

A day of signature collections during lunch garnered 405 signatures from upper school students and faculty and the resulting petition was delivered to Johnny Isakson, one of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators.

An online petition was also created at (this was spontaneously created by one student):

The Assistant Director of Global Studies has said: “I think the biggest immediate outcome for students was to confront the facts surrounding this crisis, in the context of both other historical human rights crises and genocides as well as our currently raging debate over refugees and asylum seekers. Our students also saw that awareness must lead to action, and that action as a citizen is inherently political. As soon-to-be-voters, I think they will carry this experience with them to the ballot box and, for some, to careers in public service.”

The video chat in particular humanized an otherwise distant crisis. The programming in advisory that the students created gave them the opportunity to look beyond a foreign-sounding word in the headlines to consider the very real human suffering behind it.

The Future

The schools expect to collaborate again in the future.


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