Amnesty searches for world peace with music

April 27, 2009 — by Melody Zhang

The Amnesty International club held a benefit concert on March 26 to raise money for “Women of Zimbabwe Arise,” an organization dedicated to helping Zimbabwean women gain courage and independence within their communities, and “Pennies for Peace,” which educates children in making positive impacts on a global scale.

The concert was held in the Little Theater and featured students interested in helping a good cause while showcasing many of their own compositions. Performers were encouraged to perform pieces related to women and children’s rights and included seniors Sarah Baldwin, Brian Tsai, Christina Robert and Yvette Young.

Coordinated by Amnesty presidents seniors Paul Leung and Aditi Jayaraman, along with senior Elizabeth Shin, the concert originally experienced scheduling problems but was eventually deemed a success with approximately 30 audience members.

Senior Sacha Maniar, one of the attendees, said, “I was really excited that so many people were willing to promote women’s rights and education. The concert raised [a considerable amount] for Pennies for Peace and that means a lot.” Maniar has previously worked with Citizen’s Foundation, a Pakistani-based organization that pursues similar goals as Pennies for Peace.

“It went well because people had fun—and that was the point,” said Leung. “Even some people I didn’t know showed up [despite limited publicity] and I’m really glad Amnesty’s getting known.”

Leung hopes that Amnesty will make the benefit concert an annual event and that they will be able to “build up [popularity] from there.”

“The singers were amazing even though the microphones weren’t working,” said Shin.

Shin, who had previously organized a concert in September 2008 under Paper Star Productions, took on the task of helping organize the concert as part of her interest in bringing people together for music.

“I will try to organize another concert by the end year if there are any willing clubs,” said Shin. “Otherwise I’m taking my technical skills with me to college if possible.”

The singers had requested an intimate setting and greatly enjoyed the flexibility of the program. Baldwin performed two of her own compositions, one of which she had finished writing just hours earlier, and Robert, who was still suffering from a cold, invited the small audience to join in with her on a medley of “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful Life,” which they did heartedly.

Baldwin was originally inspired to write a song about building schools for girls in Pakistan after being inspired by the nonfiction book “Three Cups of Tea” about one man’s mission to reduce poverty and educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“The concert was great,” said Baldwin. “It sparked a craving in me to know about more about Africa and the injustices going on there and ways I could help. The concert influenced me [to find out new ways] I could use my talent.”

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