Vanderbilt students raise cultural awareness at Human Rights Festival March 26

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt’s student chapter of Amnesty International will host the Human Rights Festival Friday, March 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Alumni Lawn of the University’s campus.

The purpose of the festival is for members of the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities to come together for food, music and speakers representing a variety of international cultures while spotlighting the needs of Nashville’s refugee community, according to Joel Dillard, co-president of Vanderbilt Amnesty International.

"We decided to address refugee issues because this is one of the most important human rights issues facing Nashville," Dillard said. "For example, there are more than 5,000 Kurdish people living in Nashville, making it one of the largest [Kurdish] populations outside of Iraq."

The student group’s work with Nashville’s refugee community mirrors the larger goal of the Amnesty International organization-working to correct and prevent violations of human rights around the world through grass roots efforts of outreach, education and action.

The March 26 event is open to the public and will feature performances by several international student groups, including the Indian a cappella group Vandy Taal, the Asian American Student Association’s New Year’s festival performers, and speakers representing Nashville’s refugee community. The student rock band Blind Nil, singer-songwriter Denitia Odigie and the celebrated Vanderbilt Juggling Club will also perform.

In addition, activity and game booths, as well as those selling T-shirts, CDs, crafts and international food and desserts, will be set up on Alumni Lawn. All proceeds will go directly to Nashville’s refugee outreach programs.

Amnesty International is a worldwide organization of more than 1.5 million members in some 150 countries and territories. In the United States, there are 1,850 local and students chapters comprising more than 330,000 members.

Along with Vanderbilt Amnesty International, the Human Rights Festival is being sponsored by the International Awareness Committee, the Vanderbilt Programming Board, International Student Scholar Services and the Vanderbilt Sierra Club.

For more information about the festival, contact Joel Dillard at

Media contact: Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS

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