No this is Christmas-related entry.
STAR in UK terminology (it maybe global) stands for “Student Action for Refugees” and this is a university and UK-based campaigns group campaigning for (no awards for this) the rights of refugees (in the UK as well as pushing it for refugees right s globally). Refugees, let alone their human rights, is actually way out of my forte, even as one interested in international development (and I don’t think it’s related to IPE).
Even so, I accepted the invitation from Celine to head to Urban Village last Thursday to join in a STAR fundraising event–“Comedy and music night” it was titled. Celine, by the way, was a fellow participant at the “A future for Aid Data” workshop I wrote about here and a part time Masters student in Aid Management. What struck me of course was her level of experience and enthusiasm in campaigning and volunteer work–she helped out in a educational NGO in Indonesia and as an assistant teacher in China (thus acquiring more languages than me!) and now participating in several student campaign groups at university.
I also had another reason for heading for this event: Back in 2007, while running the Birmingham University UN Society campaigns section, my campaign to focus on refugees (UN-focused) also had a work with STAR down in London. More than that, I planned an awareness event on refugees but that failed miserably and never took place (mainly due to administrative hurdles). Back then, there was no STAR group at the university. So I wanted to see how successful it was compared to my piece of “floop”.
Two pounds for entry and there were balloons (orange and blue) emphasising the word STAR on them, plus posters on the wall. A music stage was set up but no sign of any comedy act present. Most eye-catching was a table full of cupcakes, cakes and other titbits, evidently the fundraising part. I soon however met up with Celine, her close friend and friends and clutching our drinks, we tried to find seats. “That chair will raise you quite a bit,” she remarked, noting that I found one with tall legs. Eventually, I was sitting on a normal chair.
The night basically was spent attempting to be audible to the people next to you—my new found friend was a German Erasmus (Exchange) student and then donating money in exchange for cakes, cupcakes etc etc. I probably dumped quite a bit of cash for pretty good cupcakes and brownies. Hey, it’s for a good cause. The noise of the night were students singing a couple of songs such as “These boots are made for walkin’” and some others I can’t name. Also, spent some time with Celine getting to know more about her campaigning activities, her work and catching up on various stuff.
All in all, the campaign was a success—an enormous turnout especially since it was near the end of “have to pass up essays and study for tests” term. I again as usual doubt that most people there were educated about the plight of refugees or supported the STAR cause. Yet, it probably raised enough money to make a difference in development.
Thanks again Celine. Good luck!