ASU STAND Chapter and Darfur and Beyond Host STAND Up 4 Africa Conference
The journey I now follow began my senior year of high school when I opened my mind to the knowledge, history, terror, and hate of the Holocaust. Following soon after, I learned about Darfur, Sudan: a Holocaust of my generation. It was, and still is, rather impossible to fathom the indefinite fear and horror experienced through the eyes of genocide victim, a victim of evil. This knowledge is what inspired me to be an activist, and most recently, help plan the Arizona conference, STAND Up 4 Africa.
Living a comfortable life in this country, I can never understand how that feels. How though, do I combat this? For the last five years I have struggled with this question of overcoming the grief I feel when envisioning and hearing stories of another fifty women gang-raped in the Eastern Congo, of hundreds of boys ripped from their mother’s arms and forced to murder, of another village burned to the ground, with only corpses to reveal any prior human existence. But I found my voice through this path and through this journey I have met the most amazing, determined people.
My life has been blessed with friendships of refugees from around the world, from human rights activists like myself who devote their lives to ending cyclical hate and genocide, to fresh minds eager to learn how they can help. STAND is a large part of this, and in fact it has changed my life. My journey with STAND has enabled me and my fellow upSTANDers to stand, indefinitely, against genocide and human rights atrocities. It has become the medium through which I, among others, utilize our voice for the voiceless.
This past weekend my STAND chapter at Arizona State University alongside the incredible team of our local nonprofit, Darfur and Beyond, hosted the first student conference on African crises to take place in the state of Arizona: STAND Up 4 Africa. For years we have dreamed of organizing this event, of bringing the tools, skills, and education needed to effectively become the generation to end genocide. We’ve all attended such conferences ourselves, from Davis, CA to Washington D.C., and decided we must bring such a humbling, but inspirational experience to our state, to the awaiting students who wish to do their part.
Many of us devoted our summers and free time to making this a success — and we did just that, together. We were honored with guest speakers and individuals like Naomi Natale of the One Million Bones Project, AZ Representative Kyrsten Sinema, local Sudanese refugees who brought their radiant spirits, ASU professors, and many others that led informative workshops to best educate their audience. Throughout the day, students approached us restless in their enthusiasm to inform us of their intense gratitude and appreciation for this event. Our hearts were warmed and our faces could only smile.
It is incredible the profound effect a small group of activists can have on their communities, thus proliferating into a global ripple effect, empowering others and surmounting to historical changes towards peace. To plant a seed in just one young mind is an accomplishment, but to empower and inspire the whole crowd is a victory. We want young minds across the nation to know that though this group is small, we are powerful. STAND Up 4 Africa, and the many other events to come, is one stepping stone simply laying out the path to peace on this planet, for this generation and all youth to alter the course of history for a better tomorrow. Their fight has become our fight and we must show the world our strength.