By Marissa Rush, Staff Writer

From left to right: Davin Gatera, Nicholas Cross, Kabagambe Jjangu, Arielle Harding, Maal Sibulkin, Melissa Gerard, Sarah Gould, Emmaline Waldron, Keith Clark, and Natalia Asis in an #OpenToSyria action during a club meeting (photo courtesy of Emmaline Waldron)

From left to right: Davin Gatera, Nicholas Cross, Kabagambe Jjangu, Arielle Harding, Maal Sibulkin, Melissa Gerard, Sarah Gould, Emmaline Waldron, Keith Clark, and Natalia Asis in an #OpenToSyria action during a club meeting (photo courtesy of Emmaline Waldron)

UMF’s Amnesty International Club will be heading to Brooklyn, New York for Amnesty’s International Annual General Meeting tomorrow, March 20, and then will be welcoming Antolina Garcia, a motivational speaker, for a four-day event in early April to follow.

Amnesty International is a group on campus that fights for human rights worldwide. Gould said that this year, Amnesty has been working for the most part with “Prisoners of Conscience,” who are victims imprisoned for unjust laws and affected by cruel treatment.   Gould said that the Amnesty Club “will be attending various lectures as well as workshops. The workshops can range from ‘How to write a ‘Letter to the Editor’ for a newspaper,’ to ‘How to start a protest on campus,’” said Gould.

Gould’s co-president Emmaline Waldron, said in an email interview that the New York trip will allow them to meet other activists at the Annual General Meeting Conference.

After returning from New York, Amnesty will prepare for speaker, Antolina Garcia, a student from John Jay College in New York, who will be arriving on April 7. “From what I understand she was involved heavily in her middle school Amnesty group,” said Gould “From there she began tackling human rights based projects on her college campus.”

On Wednesday’s event, April 8, Garcia will talk to many student-led groups from UMF. Gould said that student-led groups could benefit from going to Garcia’s talk because “it is a great opportunity to meet someone who has had a successful experience with broaching these types of subjects on her own campus,” she said. “[Garcia] is a natural leader in her peer group, and so to have somebody come in as a peer and give us advice is a really great opportunity for us.”

On Thursday April 9, Garcia will be giving a talk in the Emery Auditorium. “[The event] is open to the community and we are really hoping that it has a good turn out,” said Gould. “She will be talking about her work on John Jay’s University’s campus and her newspaper she writes.”

“Her talk on The Dream Act is something that pertains to all of us, it is legislation that will be approached soon so to have her be able to give us more information on that and a new perspective,” said Gould.

“The Dream Act was a bill that was attempted to pass through Congress, and it would have provided potential legal status for illegal immigrants that were brought to the US as children and attended school here and built their lives” Waldron said. “Antolina is working with these people to try and get them assistance through governmental programs, aid organizations, etc.”

“I would encourage a regular old student from UMF to attend this event because it provides perspective that we don’t normally get on campus” said Waldron. “Additionally, Antolina is a student in college herself so she is young and dynamic and has a lot of potential to make this event really interesting and exciting!”

“Amnesty is the largest grassroots organization in the country, it won the Nobel Peace Prize,” Gould said. “They directly work with various other countries’ governments to ensure that human rights policies are a) being created and b) carried out.”

Gould and Waldron, along with their advisor Clint Bruce have facilitated events such as a candlelight vigils, motivational speakers, and a trip to the Common Ground Fair where they connected with the regional coordinator for the whole Northeast section of Amnesty International. “To get involved in Amnesty in general, if [students] go on their website you can sign up for their newsletter,” said Gould. “Amnesty is huge on public outreach. We try to get as many voices heard as possible”.