photos by Cady Russsell
During October, the new Amnesty International club worked on a project aiming to educate students and staff about the refugee crisis by cutting out paper people and displaying them in The Paw.
“We’re trying to explain to people the magnitude of the issue, because a lot of the time in our daily lives, it doesn’t really affect us, especially living in Dripping Springs,” senior and club president Lily Sethre-Brink said.
“And so, [we’re] really trying to make it real for people.”
The refugee problem is at an all-time high with around 68.5 million displaced persons – 22.5 million of those are refugees.
“We did it to scale,” Sethre-Brink said. “We have about 800 different paper people; the goal is to tape them together and hang them up with some statistics about it [to] inform people [about the issue] and have the exhibit be eye-catching so that people will talk about it.”
The club started off with about 280 sheets of paper with eight paper people per page, and over the course of several days, the club came together during lunches, after school, and before school to cut them out with some members even taking sheets home to work on. Each paper person represents 300,000 refugees. The club also has one person with red-colored in feet that represents the 45,000 refugee quota the U.S. has in place.
“Ideally, it will get people motivated to help and try to address this crisis from where we are in the world,” Urgent Action Coordinator senior Ryan Nowicki said.
Amnesty International is a global, non-governmental organization with over 7 million supporters and members.
“There’s not a huge leadership overhead, so it’s mostly reliant on people going out and actually taking action,” Sethre-Brink said. “And, to me, I think it’s one of the most unique organizations, because a lot of them just ask for your money, but this one gives you concrete actions that you can do.”
Amnesty International isn’t just focused on the refugee crisis; they are also working on other human rights issues like gender, sexuality, identity protection, and ending gun violence.
“I think that for me, we’re all humans. We all have human rights that you are born with, they’re inalienable,” Sethre-Brink said. “I think that educating people on that [is important] and we should say that this isn’t a privilege; this is a right.”
The club has already contacted state representatives this year along with looking into having a guest speaker to come talk about the refugee crisis.
“I think a lot of people don’t know what’s going on in the world, so I think that the other point is to educate,” Sethre-Brink said.
The club meets on certain Thursdays in the morning in A.102. An information board at the back of the classroom has different ways to get in contact with the club and all the things Amnesty International is doing.
“It’s just basically saving human lives and enforcing human rights – just what we believe to be natural born rights,” sophomore Sofia Albini said. “There aren’t many opportunities within our school to contribute to things like that and in ways like Amnesty is.”
Written by Cady Russell