For many students, college is seen as an opportunity to start making a mark on their community, state, even the world. There are so many opportunities to explore new interests and take on greater responsibilities. New Jersey native Juliana Martello, a sophomore business major here at the University of Maryland, did just that. Last spring, she started a new club on campus, Amnesty International.
Q: What is the goal of Amnesty International?
Amnesty International’s mission is to protect human rights all over the world and spread awareness on campus about human rights violations and how students can get involved in human rights protection.
Q: What does Amnesty International cover?
The organization is committed to working toward change and making the world a more peaceful place. Amnesty abides by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that outlines every human right. With this document, the organization analyzes human rights violations all over the world and is committed to preventing injustice.
Q: Why did you choose to start Amnesty International?
I first found my passion for human rights when I joined the Amnesty International Human Rights club my freshman year of high school. I became actively involved in my high school’s Amnesty club, serving as treasurer for two years and organizing multiple fundraisers, community events, and charitable donations to organizations we decided we were passionate about. For example, one of the organizations we decided to reach out to work with is called BeadForLife. Essentially, the organization is designed to help women in impoverished areas of the world who do not have the resources or networks in order to start their own businesses. My fellow officers and I reached out to a group of women in Uganda who sent us beautiful handmade paper bead jewelry, and we would sell their jewelry in our lunch periods and at the school’s coffeehouses. Then, we sent all the money from selling the jewelry back to the Ugandan women who had made the jewelry, which gave them an opportunity to use this money to eventually start small businesses in their own communities doing what they love, making gorgeous jewelry.
I decided to start an Amnesty International student organization for human rights at the University of Maryland because human rights are something I deeply care about. I enjoy being very involved, and I love being a part of something greater, something that can have a positive impact not just on myself but on people in need around the globe who do not have the same opportunities that I was fortunate enough to have grown up in Bergen County, New Jersey. I am so grateful that I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to start Amnesty International at UMD, and I am looking forward to bring all of my positivity and excitement to a cause that really means something to me. I can’t wait to see what myself Amnesty International at the University of Maryland will accomplish in the next few years, and I’m excited to put forth my efforts to make a difference at the collegiate level.
Q: What kind of events will Amnesty International be holding?
Amnesty International will be holding events to raise awareness about human rights abuses to students on campus. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with current events with all our busy schedules as college students, which is why Amnesty will be holding events to spread awareness and promote advocacy. College Park may seem like a bubble sheltered from human rights violations but it is an important aspect of citizenship to be concerned about everything that is happening in the world.
Q: Where do you see Amnesty International going in the future?
Since it is a brand new club, my main focus now is to recruit passionate individuals who want to learn more about global human rights abuses. The goal is to work with non-profits and to organize fundraisers that partner with different organizations that fight against human rights abuses.
Q: How can students get involved?
Everyone is welcome to join! Email me at [email protected] or [email protected] and I will be more than happy to send you an invite to the group if this is something you are interested in! Amnesty International is seeking passionate individuals that are looking promote social justice and make a difference. I encourage anyone looking to getting involved in human rights advocacy to reach out, the first meeting will be in October! Shoot me an email and I’d be more than happy to add you to the Orgsync group and to give you more information!