Published: April 06, 2010
Members of UT STAND and Amnesty International are trying to be erasers of genocide.
are promoting a national petition asking President Barack Obama to be
the voice for the voiceless, said Colleen Itani ’12, an international
and cultural studies major who is president of UT STAND, a student
As one way to do that, they are hosting
Carl Wilkens, former head of the Adventist Development and Relief
Agency International in Rwanda, who was the only American who chose to
remain in the country after the genocide began in 1994. He now travels
the U.S. talking about his experiences through his organization,
World Outside My Shoes
. Wilkens will speak April 7 at 8 p.m. in Riverside 111.
need to learn from the holocaust in order to change our future,” Itani
said. She is hoping to harness the passion a speaker like Wilkens can
stir in people. “We want to encourage them to act on those feelings to
make a change.”
Itani said members of her organization and Amnesty International will be handing out
petitions for those interested to sign and encouraging them to call 1-800-GENOCIDE to voice their concerns to politicians.
are a lot of students here who are interested in and inspired by people
like Wilkens,” said Gwen Teutsch, president of Amnesty International,
which formed this semester. “We can always learn from the past. You just
need that one person to spark inspiration.”
Members of UT STAND
heard Wilkens speak at the national Pledge2Protect conference in
November in Washington, D.C. and were moved by his experience preventing
the massacre of hundreds of children. He said he hopes those who attend
the presentation Wednesday will leave with a few tools and some
inspiration to serve, which he said is the most effective way to break
down barriers and build bridges.
"I hope they will leave not so
much with a sense of responsibility as a sense of our ability to
respond," Wilkens said. "I hope they will leave with a sense of the
power of presence, the power of standing up against wrong even when you
are not sure what you will do next, but you are sure of one thing, 'I
will not sit passive in the face of wrong.'"
biggest thing I hope for is for them to give thought to how each one of
us can play a part in re-humanizing our world by re-humanizing,
simultaneously, the people closest to us and families an ocean away,"
Wilkens was featured in Frontline’s
"Ghosts of Rwanda"
and in an American Radio Works documentary,
"The Few Who Stayed: Defying Genocide,"
which aired on National Public Radio.
story is inspiring,” said Gina Moccio ’11, UT STAND’s events
coordinator, who attended the November conference. Moccio hopes students
will take the stories of Rwanda and their hope for change and apply it
to the current genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
good to hear first-hand experience,” said Emily Lucero ’13, a member of
UT STAND and co-founder of Amnesty International. “Everyone reads about
these events in textbooks. When you hear it first-hand, it’s intense and
Amnesty International, which started this
semester, meets Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Lecture Hall B. UT STAND meets
Mondays at 3:30 p.m. in Plant Hall 353 or in Plant Park, weather
permitting. The two organizations will merge in the fall, meeting on
Fridays at 2 p.m. For information, contact Itani at
or Teutsch at
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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