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Human rights week 2017

Northwood’s Amnesty International club held its 16th annual Human Rights Week from March 14-16, in order to raise awareness for a variety of civil rights issues.

“The most important reason we do Human Rights Week is that it allows us to reach out to the school, inspire students to take a stance and understand why having a stance is important,” senior and president Sam Adler said.

This year’s theme was “Actions Speak Louder than Words,” and Amnesty hosted a variety of speakers who brought attention to issues such as domestic abuse, prejudicial attitudes and immigration. Through powerful speeches and presentations, the featured speakers outlined ways for students to do their part to combat these problems.

The week featured representatives from Laura’s House, which provides support and shelter for victims of domestic abuse, and policy analyst Norbert Negrea as well. She dispelled myths around immigration and economic inequity while also informing students about opportunities to serve their community.

Additionally, the club featured Carl Wilkens, the only American to witness the Rwandan Genocide firsthand. Wilkens related his experiences of the tragedy and how he helped the survivors, warning of the danger presented by discriminatory attitudes, while also encouraging students to be more accepting of differences within their own community.

“I think something that’s really important is the idea that any time we think we’re going to solve a problem by getting rid of somebody, it’s going to be temporary at best, and genocide at worst,” Wilkens said. “We think that inclusion and empathy are scary and difficult, but when we learn people’s stories and treat them with respect, it isn’t scary. Empathy and inclusion are tools for dealing with difficult situations and relationships. I hope people come out of this with a better understanding of that.”

Amnesty is already looking ahead to feature more speakers for next year’s Human Rights Week, and is also planning to collaborate with Northwood’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) for their upcoming event Pride Week.