Big Benefit for Haiti on Sunday
“Kampe ave’m” means coming together at GSU
On Sunday afternoon, Boston University’s George Sherman Union will transform into Haiti Central, beginning at 1 p.m.
With more than 200 student volunteers, strong support from across the University, and a lineup that includes live music, speeches, slam poetry, interactive educational exhibits, a silent auction, a fashion show, and live video from Port-au-Prince, the hope is to live up to the big event’s name: Boston Stands with Haiti.
“We figure we’ll have at least 5,000 people there,” says event organizer Sam Minkoff (ENG’10), president of the Programming Council. “This will be a great fundraiser — all proceeds will go to Partners in Health, who have done such amazing work in Haiti over the years. But it’ll be a lot more than that. We want to gather not just Boston University students, but people from all around Boston, to educate ourselves on the history of Haiti and learn about ways to offer long-term support to the Haitian people.”
“Kampe ave’m,” a Haitian Kreyòl phrase that translates as “stand together,” is the event’s rallying cry. Organizers have planned a media-rich event, with multiple video monitors and slide shows, displays of Haitian art, even a walk-through fog screen (meant to symbolize stepping from the past into the future). The main stage on the second floor will host performances and speeches for five hours, while panelists of University professors and Haitian experts convene in the Backcourt.
Organizers report that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is expected to speak at 2 p.m. State Representative Marie St. Fleur, a Haitian-American who has many Haitian-born constituents in her Roxbury and Dorchester district, also will attend.
Fundraising already has begun, spurred by the University’s promise to match the first $25,000 raised. More than $5,000 has been collected so far from grassroots student efforts.
“I see something here that I hope to see a lot more of,” says Kenn Elmore, dean of students, who will be speaking at the event. “Students, University departments, people who have never worked together before, and saying, ‘Let’s pull together.’ I really respect this process. It sounds corny, but this is how world change happens.”
Musical performances by 20 acts will run a remarkable gamut, from a cappella groups like Barbershop Sweethearts, Chordially Yours, the Allegrettos, and the BosTones to dance from BU on Tap, Bulletproof Funk, the World Music Ensemble, and the Edge Dance Company. Solo performances, instrumentals, and what promises to be a soul-stirring group finale of “Stand by Me” are also planned.
Panel discussions will engage some of the University’s heavy-hitting faculty, including Randall Ellis, a College of Arts & Sciences economics professor; William Keylor, a CAS professor of history and of international relations and director of the International History Institute; Enrique Silva, a Metropolitan College assistant professor of urban affairs and city planning (recently back from Haiti); Susan Eckstein, a CAS professor of sociology and of international relations; and Paul Hare, a CAS lecturer in international relations, who is affiliated with the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Haitian scholars and activists from around the country will weigh in as well.
A silent auction will offer chances to buy a slew of items, from four BU basketball season tickets for next year to Celtics and Bruins items, free beer for a year (sure to be a popular item for those over 21), a tour-of-duty ride-along with Boston Police (winner’s choice of department), as well as unique Haitian art and sculpture recently brought back from the country.
If the immediate goal is to do good, do well, and have a great party to boot — which will continue with an “official after-hours bash” beginning at 7 p.m. at Upper Crust Pizzeria, 888 Commonwealth Ave., all proceeds going to Partners in Health’s Boston Stands with Haiti — the longer term hope is that Sunday’s event will offer people multiple ways to engage with Haiti going forward.
“We are very aware that Haiti already isn’t on people’s minds the way it was right after the earthquake,” says Lauren Prince (CAS’10), another event organizer. “But that doesn’t mean the need is any less. So we want to bring people together, hopefully inspiring them to stay involved for the long haul.”
Boston Stands with Haiti, organized by a coalition of University groups, including the Programming Council, the Dean of Students Office, and the Haitian Cultural Association, rolls out from 1 to 6 p.m. this Sunday, February 28, at the George Sherman Union. More information is available here. Learn more about Partners in Health, the medical organization this event will support.
Seth Rolbein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments