Student activist Sara Abou Rashed speaks at May 4 educators summit

Poet and student activist Sara Abou Rashed during her keynote speech on day-two of the The Voices for Change: 2019 Educator’s Summit on August 1, 2019.

Autumn Rietzel

On the second day of The Voices for Change: 2019 Educator’s Summit, poet and student activist Sara Abou Rashed told the audience in the Kiva that the key to supporting students is listening to them.

“Students will tell you things you don’t know when you listen,” Rashed said.

The three-day event was created to help teachers better educate a new generation about the history of the May 4, 1970 shootings on Kent State campus and its relevance to modern issues and events.

In her keynote speech on Thursday night, Rashed offered 10 points and answered the educators in attendance questions in order to help them understand what they can do for students in need.

The 10 points that Rashed offered stood out to Kelly McCrone, a teacher at Bay High School in Bay Village, Ohio.

“It was a great reminder because you forget the power you have in your classroom,” McCrone said.

Rashed spoke about her life growing up in Syria and how she moved to Ohio six years ago and learned English by translating “The Odyssey” and other high school textbooks.

During her speech, she read poems she wrote about her life in Syria and what it means to be American.

The keynote ended with a group activity where audience members could pen their own version of Rashed’s poem “I am America.”

Rashed said she wants educators to be hopeful when teaching about difficult topics like the May 4 shootings.

“They are educators who are stepping up,” Rashed said.

Rashed finished off the keynote with a poem about the Parkland shooting that happened in 2018, remembering what it was like to be 17 while 17 people died.

After the keynote, McCrone expressed her admiration for Rashed.

“If it’s any consolation,” she said. “I want my students to grow up like her.”

Autumn Rietzel covers student life. Contact her at [email protected].