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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2005

Classroom topic: Homeland security

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Education Writer

Since homeland security has become a part of daily life over the past few years, the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council wants to make sure students understand what it means to them.

This weekend more than 150 students from schools across the state will gather at Sacred Hearts Academy for PAAC's High School Global Vision Summit 2005, where they will learn about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its responsibilities, as well as the United States' policies on terrorism.

The goal of the summit is to give the students a better understanding of how and why the United States is fighting its war on terrorism.

"It will give them a concrete understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing what they do," said Natasha Chappel, the PAAC high school program director.

Students will learn who the United States is protecting itself from, how it is done and how it affects their lives.

They will hear from a variety of organizations, which will discuss their roles in homeland security and how they have evolved since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The presenters include Civil Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state Department of Health, the American Red Cross, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and The Honolulu Advertiser. A law professor from the University of Hawai'i also will discuss the federal Patriot Act.

Chappel said students hear about homeland security all the time, but she is unsure where they get their information. "It's important to have a variety of sources for information," she said.

After hearing from the presenters, students will be asked to discuss what they have learned and determine how they would deal with specific crises. They will have to think about their own beliefs, such as where they stand on U.S. foreign policy. "Being able to open their minds and challenge their beliefs is very important," Chappel said.

On Sunday, Neighbor Island participants will visit the state Civil Defense headquarters, while other students will hold a mock press conference where they will present their plans for dealing with homeland security threats.

Students who could not participate can still see the results of the conference by visiting PAAC's Web site in another week or so at paachawaii.org.

Reach Treena Shapiro at tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8014.

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Classroom tip

Teachers interested in bringing up homeland security discussions in the classroom might want to use these prompts to stimulate debate:

Topic one: "Terrorism is an imminent threat to freedom, and national security requires giving up some of our personal rights" versus "Terrorism is a fact of life and does not justify increased security measures in the United States."

Topic two: "Promoting the American values of freedom, democracy and open markets is a necessary part of building a peaceful world" versus "Promoting the American values of freedom, democracy and open markets will inevitably make the United States a target of hostility from people opposed to the American way of life."

Topic three: "Pre-emptive action abroad by the United States to protect its homeland security is justified" versus "Pre-emptive action abroad by the United States to protect its homeland security is dangerous and unwarranted."

Topic four: What are the beliefs that guide U.S. policy on terrorism, and do you agree?

Source: Choices for the 21st Century Education Program, www.choices.edu.