Seniors at McLean High School received a special visitor last week. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-10th) dropped by two Government classes to disscuss human rights issues in Africa.
"I would urge all of you, particularly being young, to develop a sensitivity for the poor and the downtrodden, and those who are being persecuted and who are victims of genocide," said Wolf.
Wolf, who is co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, is particularly passionate about human rights issues. With other world conflicts in the forefront of the media, Wolf expressed his concern that the civil rights movement in Africa is being overlooked.
"I've noticed kind of a drop-off in young people being interested in these kinds of issues, and I think it's important to know what's going on in the world," said Wolf.
As it turned out, the students had more questions about the war in Iraq and the situation in the hurricane-destroyed south, than on anything else.
"What efforts are going on to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina?" asked Blight Voth. "Are the levies going to be built in time for upcoming hurricane season?"
Wolf explained that construction of the levies is currently underway, but warned that rebuilding the city would take time.
"It takes a long, long while to do this," said Wolf. "But there has been a major federal investment of $85 billion."
Another student asked whether it made sense to rebuild New Orleans if no one is moving back, and as it will only get hit by hurricanes again.
"I think you want to rebuild New Orleans," said Wolf. "Will it be exactly the way it was before? The answer is no. But I don't think that you can just give up on a city."
Many students had questions about the situation in Iraq, and how long it would be before troops would be able to come home. Wolf stated that in his opinion, pulling out now would be a mistake because doing so would result in a civil war in Iraq.
"And any hope of Arab-Israeli peace would be destroyed," said Wolf.
Having recently been to Iraq, Wolf said he thinks it is important to keep what he calls "fresh eyes on the target."
"Some things are going better, and some things are not going well," said Wolf.
Karla Feghali asked why the U.S. government is not modeling the new Iraqui government after other successfully run Arab governments.
"Why don't they base it off a Middle Eastern country," asked Feghali. "I'm Lebanese, and there are other Arab countries where their government system works well, so wouldn't it be better to model it off of an Arab country?"
Wolf said that while he could understand where she was coming from, he was not sure that such a strategy would work.
"I think where you and I would differ is that I wouldn't agree that it has worked well," said Wolf. "There have been problems with those governments."
McLean High School government teachers John McGinnis and Seth DeRose both say that Congressman Wolf's visits are good experiences for their students, as it provides them with the opportunity to discuss the current events they go over every day in class.
"We go through the [Washington] Post every morning," said DeRose. "We actually go through and read the newspaper, and we also watch Channel 1 programming."
John McGinnis says he was pleased with the students' participation.
"I was really impressed with the questions that were asked," said McGinnis.