No Lost Generation Inaugural Gala: A Refugee Initiative

BY: MARIAH ESPADA

Top: Sean Bates, Gabe Delsol, Lais Riberio, Andrew Rogan
Bottom: Alli Mulcare, Danielle Brignola, Bri Goetzke, Josh Ledyard, Camille Torres, Dau Doldol, Shayna Vayser, Alaina Rudnick, Michal Petros

No Lost Generation at American University successfully completed their first Inaugural Gala – an impressive milestone for a club that has only been on campus for the last eight months. NLG AU is one of many nationwide chapters that are geared to raise funds and promote awareness on the global refugee crisis. This international cause, supported by the US Department of State, is intended to make college students care for the current displaced generation, hence the origin of the club’s name.

As the SIS atrium began to fill up with eloquently dressed AU students, faculty and staff, many made their way to the tables lined with refreshments and appetizers. During the mingling portion of the night, the sold out event was buzzing with eager voices discussing the complexities of the current refugee crisis.

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The chatter was brought to a pause as former US Ambassador Mark Storella graced the stage to present Junior Dau Doldol with NLG’s Student Voice Award for his outstanding commitment to advocacy. While Doldol was eager to accept the award, he was also overwhelmed with gratitude. “I am grateful,” he said. “This is close to my heart. I am a former refugee myself. Sometimes we turn a blind eye to them [refugees], so this is for them.”

After a number of culturally explosive performances from the African Dance Team, AU Bhangra, and a salsa class offered this Spring semester, the event transitioned into an art exhibit, where photography would be auctioned in an effort to raise money to benefit United Nations Population Fund-USA's "Adopt-a-Future" campaign for the education of children refugees. One of the artists whose work was displayed was photographer Anne Saint-Pierre, who showcased her project “Roots,” a collection that captured a New York City based urban farm recovery program for refugees and asylum-seekers. Saint-Pierre utilized her passion as a means of shining a light on the situation. “These photos carry a sense of innocence that translate visually, she said. “These photos take a snapshot of a moment--that’s the power of photography.”

After reviewing the artist's pictures, the night closed with a virtual reality opportunity where participants got to go beyond the average 2-D screen to see a film on the refugee experience from the UNFPA. Although seats were limited for the screening, the impact was widespread. Many individuals took off their headsets with teary eyes, leaving others to imagine what display of raw images lied within that reality.

Within a short year, No Lost Generation’s board has managed to make a widespread impact on and off he AU Campus. To stay updated on the club’s plans for the near future, be sure to stay updated on their always active Facebook page. This is only the beginning for NLG AU – join in their movement to help combat the oppressed 21.3 million refugees affected worldwide.

Photos provided by Alexis Arnold.