On March 8-10, Pulitzer Center journalists Rebecca Hamilton and Jen Marlowe visited St. Louis middle and high schools to discuss their reporting from Sudan and share their thoughts on the future of South Sudan.
Though South Sudan is poised to become the world's newest nation in July 2011, both Hamilton and Marlowe encouraged students to explore Sudan as one nation with a collective history rather than disparate regions with no common story. The journalists explained how isolated media coverage (examining either the atrocities in Darfur or the North/South conflict and subsequent peace agreement; but never both simultaneously), has confused many Americans' understanding of the current situation in Sudan. As Hamilton and Marlowe described their work in Darfur, Khartoum, and South Sudan, they elaborated on the challenges that face both the north and south. As the southern third of the country prepares to secede in July 2011, some of these challenges facing North Sudan include: the marginalization of certain ethnic groups in the North, economic security, the distribution of oil revenue, policies regarding citizenship, and the increasingly insular nature of the ruling regime in Northern Sudan.
In addition to facing many of the same challenges as the north of the country, the newly formed government of South Sudan must also begin to provide schooling to a country in which 85% of the population is illiterate, improve health care services, and build basic national infrastructure such as paved roads, clean drinking water, and electricity. Both journalists concluded the challenges were great, and the expectations of the Southern Sudanese incredibly high.
Students and educators in every school connected to both the presenters and the topic. As one student from a Freshman Honors History Class at St. Joseph's Academy reflected after meeting with Jen Marlowe, "It was interesting to get a fresh perspective on potential steps of action that could be taken to help Sudan, and whether or not we should get more involved. This continues to be the topic of open discussion in our class. We give our thanks to Jen and the Pulitzer Center for widening our worldview from a 'spotlight' to more of a 'floodlight'."