Competing with more than two hundred groups, George School’s Amnesty International Club is one of eight winners of the 2020 ActivismX challenge. ActivismX is an initiative that encourages students to take action for human rights after returning to school campuses each fall. This year, projects focused on the AIUSA RightsNow! campaign, which puts human rights concerns at the center of the hardships caused by COVID-19. The prompt focused on projects aimed at ending gun violence and freeing people from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.
The Amnesty International Club created a composite portrait of and video about Pastor Steven Tendo for their project. Steven is a human rights activist from Uganda who is seeking asylum in the US. He has been detained by ICE for twenty months and his health has been deteriorating since he has been unable to receive proper medical care for his diabetes.
Sevde Guleryuz ’23 and Megha Phalcomepely ’23, student leaders of the Amnesty International club, first discussed what art classes all group members were taking for inspiration, settling on visual art as their medium. They then divided Pastor Steven’s portrait into sixteen pieces, so that every member of the group could work on one piece.
Sevde explained, “We didn’t give a guideline on how the paintings should be, because we wanted to show that, although we are different human beings who look through different perspectives, when we come together to look at human rights, we complete each other.”
Meredith Baldi ’01, the faculty advisor said that “the project was entirely student-driven.” In addition to the portrait, they wrote letters of solidarity to Pastor Steven and made a video explaining his case and what the group has done to help him.
Winning projects will be featured in a short video for Amnesty and featured on their social media accounts.