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International students raise $23K for quake victims

Benefit concert drew a global audience

Turkish and Egyptian musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek

When BU’s International Students Consortium decided to hold a benefit concert for earthquake victims in Pakistan, they set a fundraising goal of $10,000. When a week before the event they had already exceeded that goal, they set the bar at $20,000.
“There was an overwhelming response,” says Bilal Bilici (CAS’06), president of the ISC. “We had to turn people away.”

The concert, held April 21 in the School of Law auditorium, ultimately raised $23,000, earning the ISC the Student Activities Office award for program of the year. On Friday, May 26, Bilici, SAO program coordinator Josh Hiscock, and Susan Yam (SMG’07), ISC vice president, will present a check for that amount to the consul general of Pakistan in New York.

“As the ISC, we believe in teamwork, and we believe in personal relationships with different people and different departments,” Bilici says. “Everyone did something for this event, whether they are administrators, students, faculty, or dignitaries.”

Bilici worked with the Turkish Consulate of Boston to organize the concert, which was presented in conjunction with Boston’s annual Turkish film and music festival. The Turkish and Egyptian musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek performed, and diplomats representing Egypt, France, Israel, Pakistan, Poland, Taipei, and Turkey attended.

Faruk, who was born in Adana, Turkey, was trained as a Sufi priest and performed in New York throughout the 1980s before he was asked to contribute to the soundtrack of the 1990 documentary Suleyman the Magnificent. Since then, he has recorded more than a dozen albums and performed with musicians including Ginger Baker and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The consul general of Pakistan, who attended the event, wrote in a letter to the ISC that the concert was “simply breathtaking.”

The concert quickly sold out, Bilici says, but the ISC was able to supplement the funds through individual donations. Students at the University, he says, donated $15,000.

An estimated 73,000 people were killed and three million displaced by the quake, which occurred in October 2005 in the Kashmir region of Pakistan