While mass genocide is usually attributed to localized instances of war and political or religious upheaval, currently it is approximated one human life is taken every 5.6 seconds due to their nationality, ethnicity or religion. Daily, 14,000 individuals fall victim to genocide.
Michele Czosnowski, junior marketing major, became involved in One Million Bones, a nationwide organization working to raise awareness on the international crisis of genocide, when looking for an alternative form of service learning.
“I watched the video about One Million Bones prior to signing up for it, and one of them that really touched me was one with a young adult, late teenage man out of the Republic of Congo,” Czosnowski said. “He was just emotionally talking about how he lost his father, his two brothers, his uncle and his pastor. I thought about it in my own shoes. What if I had lost my dad? I have three sisters. What if I lost my sisters?”
One Million Bones has created a national fundraising and awareness campaign which pairs art with a cause and will have a visually and emotionally powerful end result. Each state is crafting a set number of ceramic bones, which will travel to Washington D.C. this spring as a monument to be displayed in a three-day bone laying event between the National Mall and the Capitol Building. The one million bones each represent a donation of, at minimum, one dollar.
“When you see something like that it is almost hard to believe because we do live in America,” Czosnowski said. “We have so much freedom and things like that don’t really happen around here.”
According to Czosnowski, the ceramic bones are representative of the unifying link between all human beings.
“We all are the same,” Czosnowski said. “Every human being on this earth is the same and the bones represent something that we all share. On the outside we may all look different, but on the inside we are all put together the same way.”
Jamie Lish, graduate student and Idaho Coordinator for One Million Bones, has been working on campus and in the community to reach the bone-making goal for Idaho. For Lish, passion is what drives her to continue working to end genocide.
Breaking the silence, Lish said, is the first step toward awareness.
“I feel like if we are not saying anything we are saying its okay,” Lish said. “That’s how it was with World War II and the Jewish community. The whole world kind of sat by silently and this was happening, and afterwards we were so upset and we were like, ‘we will never let this happen again’—but we are.”
Idaho was originally slated into the fundraising network nearly last of all the states, with a designated contribution of 7,000 bones. After a partnership with HP Idaho, this number jumped to an impressive 40,000 bones, making Idaho one of the top contributors to the cause and raising at least $40,000 to fund the end of genocide.
“Really this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Lish said. “I was really passionate about this cause. In this day and age this should not even be an issue, people should not be fighting for their lives, and I think by not doing anything and not saying anything that is just a silent way of condoning what is happening.”
While many people believe they are only one person, and have no power to change worldwide atrocities such as genocide, Lish and Czosnowski exemplify how one person can in fact have an impact.
“I would say that one person really can start a fire and make a difference and I think that is the biggest thing,” Lish said.
Since Lish and Czosnowski both became involved with One Million Bones through involvement with Boise State, they encourage students to explore alternative service learning opportunities and find a meaningful cause to dedicate their time to. Czosnowski said just knowing someone will be laying a bone she has personally made at the national monument will be a once in a lifetime opportunity she will never forget.
“Go outside your comfort zone,” Czosnowski said. “Step away from the typical service learning opportunities Boise State has. Something like this is going to stick with you forever.”