Two short days after winning the Sterling Award for Best US Feature at the Silverdocs film festival, in Silver Spring, MD, we had to come back to the Washington, DC, area for a screening of Our School in the United States Congress. It is hard to imagine a much greater honor, or a bigger chance to present to American policymakers the Europe-wide issue of segregated education for Roma children.
The US Helsinki Commission, which has a long record of addressing Roma issues, graciously hosted the screening. Producer-Director Mona Nicoara joined Chair of the Roma Education Fund Costel Bercus and Mr Serban Brebenel of the Romanian Embassy in a long discussion, an hour-long fragment of which you can see in the YouTube clip embedded above. Do not be fooled by the static camera - this was an engaging discussion, which included representatives of the State Department, USAID, US Congress staffers, Roma activists, as well a organizations with a long track record of working on Roma issues in Europe.
An understanding emerged that folks working on education, human rights, as well as disability right need to better coordinate their efforts on the issue, and that Roma rights, and education in particular, need to become a priority for US foreign policy makers.
For Our School, this was the first, but by no means the last, such advocacy screening. We are planning similar events at the State Department in the US, the European Parliament, and before national decision-makers in select European countries.
[We are tremendously grateful to Ms Erika Schlager of the US Helsinki Commission for making this event possible.]