What does it mean to be French?
How do you become an upstander and inspire others to stand up?
Since 2015, Facing History has worked in partnership with French educators and members of civil society to improve school climate and address issues of current and historic intergroup conflict.
One of these key partners is Afev, an amazing network of university volunteers across France. With Afev, we have developed a program to address contemporary racism, antisemistism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred. We use Facing History resources to train Afev volunteers throughout the country, and volunteers take these lessons and strategies back to schools where they mentor young people. Facing History has trained over 500 Afev volunteers, who have in turn reached over 5,000 students since the beginning of our partnership.
The Facing History program provides volunteers with the opportunity to wrestle with difficult issues and to contemplate what it means to be ethical civic actors, as volunteers and as citizens of France. Together, we examine the consequences of hatred, discrimination, and prejudice on individuals, communities, and countries. We also explore how and why people become upstanders; what we can learn from them; and how we can inspire others to speak out and stand up against hatred.
And now, Afev volunteers are taking what they have learned to develop their own projects to encourage young people to become upstanders, to improve school climate, and to explore what it means to be a French citizen. As one volunteer stated,
“Racism is still present, but upstanders are also there on a day-to-day basis. We have to sensitize people to become upstanders."