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Commentary: Make a difference this summer

As the temperature rises and school draws to a close, the promise of summer envelops our minds. For anyone under 20 (or me, at least), all thoughts are completely dedicated to lemonade and swimming. It’s time to make summer plans … and for the sixth year in a row, the Summer Institute for Human Rights and Genocide Studies is accepting registrations. If you are looking for a way to spend one week of the summer (July 7-12) meeting talented, courageous people from around the world and learning how you are important to the global picture, the Summer Institute is calling.

Inspiring young adults to have a positive impact on the world, the Summer Institute is designed for students who are interested in politics, history, international relations or the social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to spend six days meeting present day heroes, not to mention meeting other teens from all over Western New York. Beginning with a study of the Holocaust, students will then learn about current human rights situations around the world.

“I came into this honestly knowing very little,” one student said. “But the knowledge I received changed me. I am different due to this experience. I may not have been loud and voiced my emotions, but honestly I could not have spent my week in a better way.”

The week also includes field trips and hands-on demonstrations.

The focus of this year’s institute is “Resistance: Our Time is Now.” Speakers such as Shabana Basij- Rasikh (a young woman promoting gender equality in Afghanistan), Allida Black (human rights expert and author), Jamel Bettaieb (Arab Spring Facebook activist), David Crane, Carl Wilkens, Holocaust survivor Joe Diamond and many other leaders will be sharing their stories.

The Summer Institute is a lot more than a way to spend six days of summer – it is about changing the way we see the world and our place in it. Go to to find out more.

Rainah Umlauf is a senior at Springville-Griffith Institute.