Doors to Diplomacy Project ID: 5316

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Opening the Doors for Refugees: The Crisis in Iraq
Category: 2. Promotion of Peace and Democracy: Social Issues

School: Cherokee High School
    Marlton, New Jersey, United States of America

3 students, ages 17 & 18 worked together to complete this Doors to Diplomacy project on March 19, 2008. They have participated in Doors to Diplomacy in the following year(s): First year

Classes and Teachers: Karen Dooley, Dana Tritsch, William M., Patrick B., and Derrick R.

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Mrs. Karen Dooley is a history teacher at Cherokee High School and has held that position for nine years. She has a passion for education and has enjoyed working closely with students. Her desire to create an outstanding project connected us with interviewees that became the heart of our project.

Mrs. Dana Tritsch is a Business and Applications teacher at Cherokee High School and has held the position for six years. She has extensive knowledge of web design and of the Dreamweaver program. She has been available to answer our numerous questions and we thank her for her input in our project.

Patrick B. (17) is a junior at Cherokee High School. He is a very intelligent and motivated student and his commitment to athletics and to academics has given him the drive to succeed in this project. The research he has compiled from various Internet sources was crucial to achieving our end result.

William M. (17) is also a junior at Cherokee High School. He plays baseball for the school and participates in many other extracurricular activities as well. His writing ability was important to the project narrative, and he also worked tirelessly to research and obtain information about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

Derrick R. (18) is a senior at Cherokee High School and has helped our cause tremendously by using his expertise to set up a stunning web page for our project. Using his repertoire of skills, Derrick has utilized the following programs for our web design: Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, and Adobe Photoshop.

2. Summary of Our Project

After each passing day, more and more fatalities of innocent Iraqi citizens are reported on the American news. At this point in the endless conflict, it is easy to forget the ramifications of each death. There are no names, just numbers; statistics that we have come to expect as we sit idly by thousands of miles away, safe in our homes in the United States of America. However, almost as disturbing as the immeasurable number of deaths are the number of Iraqis with no home. The refugee crisis in Iraq has become a blatant blemish on the US’s involvement in the Middle East. Through our project, the members of our team hope to raise awareness of the dire situation. In our quest we have interviewed Capt. Michael Del Palazzo of the United States Marine Corps, who is currently serving in Ramadi, Iraq; Ms. Pamela Lewis, the Congressional Liaison of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; Mr. Ryan Dooley, Regional Director of the Miami Passport Agency in the United States Department of State; Bassim, an Iraqi Interpreter, who was brought to the United States because he was targeted by Iraqi insurgents. These four remarkable contacts, as well as countless others, have made available to us invaluable information. We hope that by addressing the situation of the millions that have left Iraq for neighboring countries and the millions who are displaced and roaming within Iraq, we can have a positive affect on their lives by encouraging you and others to help.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

We feel very fortunate to have Internet access throughout our school and in our homes.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Unfortunately, we did not find out about this project until January, and therefore we started at least three months behind. We also had to work around our team member's busy schedules which posed a major problem towards the deadline.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our project, entitled “Opening the Doors for Refugees: The Crisis in Iraq,” explores the difficult situation faced by the more than four million refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. As a team, we have been encouraged to raise as much awareness and publicity throughout our community as we possibly can. Our site is

6. How did your activities and research for this Doors to Diplomacy Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Our project follows all New Jersey state curriculum standards including: civics, world history, economics, American history, and geography. In order to complete the project, we had to learn many new skills. Derrick, our web designer, worked with many new programs, including: Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, and Adobe Photoshop. For our bibliography, we used Citation Machine, a very useful Internet source that simplifies the citation process. We had never used this before and it proved to be extremely helpful. Our group met daily after school to discuss, research, and organize our information into the finished web page. In order to remain in touch with our contacts, we used phone conferences to conduct interviews and retrieve information. Since beginning our project, we have, as a group, become more knowledgeable about the needs of refugees not only in Iraq, but in many other countries around the world. This project was extracurricular and we had to arrange our schedules so that we could meet even on weekends. As a result of working on this project, we have discovered that we have access to very powerful software programs, such as Dreamweaver, and to numerous computer rooms in our school. The Internet has been a crucial asset to our project in many ways. The instant access to information and daily articles reporting events that are currently transpiring, are resources that traditional methods could never give us. Ten years ago, this project would have been impossible for us to accomplish, for the crisis we are reporting on is changing everyday.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your Doors to Diplomacy project?

Computers have been the tools used most frequently in finishing this project. We used Dell, IBM, and Mac PC’s, as well as printers and scanners to complete our task. We used telephones to communicate with our contacts that were unable to meet with us due to long distance. We added pictures of ourselves to personalize our project. Newspaper articles, via the Internet, were a huge help in researching the ever-changing situation of the refugee crisis. All of the tools used were available to us through our high school, and none of them were donated to us by any businesses.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your Doors to Diplomacy project both on-line and in person.

The advertising campaign for our project is a work in progress. However, we have begun to publicize our project in many ways. We are attempting to raise awareness on our school website, around our school with flyers, and in the Cherokee Pride, a newsletter sent to every Cherokee student’s family. We also are advertising in an article in our school newspaper, The Cherokee Scout, and in local newspapers so that word is spread throughout our community. The visitors to our site have been very impressed with the graphics, content layout, ease of navigation, and the large amount of the information that we have compiled.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Our webpage is designed to educate members of our community about the Iraqi refugee situation. We hope that they will donate through some of the various NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organization) that you can find on our webpage under the “Involvement” link. We would like as many people as possible to visit our webpage, including our contacts in the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Military, our friends, family and neighbors. We are also trying to have our site link appear on several of the NGO sites so that our influence can reach far beyond our immediate community.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

The involvement of others in our project has been key to our success. We received help from various teachers within our school that have expertise in certain aspects of the project. We also contacted a friend currently serving in Iraq who gave us information about the chaos that refugees are experiencing there. We had several contacts in the U.S. State Department. Our teacher advisor’s brother-in-law, the Director of the Miami Passport Agency, littered us with information about the process of becoming a refugee. We also spoke with Ms. Pamela Lewis, the Congressional Liaison of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and she defined what the State Department does for refugees. In addition, we were put in contact with an Iraqi interpreter who came to the U.S. so as to escape the danger of insurgents that were targeting him. We contacted the embassies of the two countries most affected by fleeing Iraqis, Jordan and Syria, and compiled information from the two ambassadors.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

When we began the project, we first discovered that we needed a student highly qualified in the webpage program Dreamweaver. We also realized that in order to complete the project with perfection we needed to spend countless hours together researching and organizing information. This became difficult as time restrictions and other extracurricular activities began to interfere with our time working on the project. We enjoyed making contacts with very important people in the U.S. State Department and the Jordanian and Syrian embassies, who were more than willing to help our cause. The opportunity to work closely in a small group was enjoyable to each member of our team. We discovered that there is ALWAYS more information to find and to add to our project because the situation in Iraq is constantly changing.


View our Doors to Diplomacy Project (Project ID: 5316)

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