By JEN RETTER ’16
Thousands of schools and organizations across America participate in the “Write for Rights,” a letter-writing campaign created to defend victims of human rights violations. On Dec. 3, Arcadia’s Amnesty International club hosted AmnesTEA, a meeting held for any student or member of the community who wished to take part in “Write for Rights.”
The gathering marked the second year in a row that the event was held at Arcadia University. Considered one of the most important events that the club takes part in, AmnesTEA encompassed many of the activities that the Amnesty International members work on throughout the year: letter writing, petition signing and raising awareness.
During the meeting, 10 representatives from Amnesty International presented cases of different people across the globe who had been wrongly imprisoned for various accusations. The speakers also offered solutions on how to bring these victims justice. To voice their outrage at these 10 particular instances of human rights violations, those who attended the meeting wrote letters to the government of each unfairly imprisoned convict.
Hope Kwiatkowski, co-president of the Amnesty International club, commented, “[This event] brings our work to a public level. We have the potential to take time out of the day and do something to help someone else. It helps us to realize our power as American citizens.”
The letter-writing proved to be even more successful than it was at last year’s “Write for Rights,” at which the participants wrote about 100 letters. “There were a lot of people there, and we have a large stack of letters—at least 200—that we’ll send off to their respective countries. People were glad that they went to hear about these cases of human rights,” said Kwiatkowski.
AmnesTEA wasn’t the only event that Arcadia’s human rights activists had planned this semester, however. Kwiatkowski, who traveled to Washington, D.C., with some of the club members not too long ago, explained, “I think we do a lot of interesting events because of our connection with the Amnesty International office in D.C. I recently got an email from the regional coordinator of Amnesty clubs saying that Aung San SuuKyi, the renowned human rights activist from Burma, was coming to the United States to talk.”
A group of 21 students attended the lecture given by Aung San SuuKyi in D.C. and met the activist. “The event was moving and inspiring for all of the students, and I can guarantee it will be one all will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Kwiatkowski.
While the members of the Amnesty International club and the other students, faculty and community participants who attended AmnesTEA probably won’t see every case resolved, Kwiatkowski and her fellow activists believe that voicing their own opinions is making a difference. As the club continues to prepare for future events, Kwiatkowski urges every Arcadia student to continue to fight not only for their own rights, but for the rights of others as well: “Any action taken to promote human rights awareness is significant, whether you see the impact or not.”