June 18th, 2011 – The Laogai Museum and Knowledge Commons DC teamed up to host an “Introduction to the Laogai: China’s Forced Labor Prisons” class at the museum this past Saturday. Knowledge Commons DC is a free school based on the idea of learning outside the classroom. It is a collaborative project of local artists and organizations, which take advantage of the fact that everyone is an expert in something, and that we can all learn from each other. KCDC’s “students” come from all walks of life, as registration is open to the public.
Students first listened to Harry Wu’s captivating yet tragic story of life in prison and eventually his story of freedom. Afterwards students were given a guided tour through the Laogai Museum, where they learned more about the history of China and the rise and widespread use of the brutal and inhumane Laogai system. As students were mulling over all the information they had received, they got to partake in a delicious meal of home cooked Chinese food.
It was during this time that students asked Mr. Wu many questions regarding his story. They were particularly interested in learning about how Laogai products are exported and traced, and what actions they could take as consumers to help stop the selling of forced labor prison products.
This globally conscious group left armed with new knowledge about human rights abuse in China. The class was a great success and we look forward collaborating with KCDC again in the near future.