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classroom activities
ACTIVITY 1: Do Individuals Matter?

Learning Goal
Students will explore the values, knowledge, and skills required for careers in humanitarian action and by extension, understand the complexities tied to humanitarian careers.


  1. Break the class into small groups and ask the students to talk about the benefits of choosing a career in business versus entering a profession involved with humanitarian action. Students should discuss the values, knowledge and skills that are necessary in each case, and they should be encouraged to distinguish between those that are needed by an amateur versus a professional. They should explore the personal and professional rewards and sacrifices and then choose the one that suits them best. Ask students to write an explanation of their views.

  2. Take a poll of the choices made and then assign each person into one of three groups: guidance counselors, business-oriented students, and those considering a job in the humanitarian field. In groups of three, the "guidance counselor" should lead a discussion asking the following questions (add your own or additional questions generated by the group):

    What kind of training would you need for your career? Is a technical or liberal arts education required? Do you want an academic program with field-related internships? What compels individuals to attack problems? Is "burn out" a possibility? What is a hero, and how many of us are capable of being one?

  3. Come together as a large group to share thoughts and perceptions and summarize the necessary values, knowledge and skills in each case.

As students view the film, ask them to look for "labels" that people give Fred Cuny in the film. (These include: "Texas renegade to be avoided," "Not just the brain, but the glue," "Tremendous humanitarian hero," "Civilian-in-charge," "Disaster Junkie," and "Professional relief expert") Facilitate a class discussion about the qualities necessary to be an effective humanitarian aid worker and which ones they believe apply best to Fred Cuny.


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