Charlotte student determined to make world better

03/01/2013 12:00 AM

02/28/2013 1:07 PM

Sarona Bedwan, 21, a senior at UNCC is not content to let injustice and suffering go unchallenged.

As vice president of the student chapter of Amnesty International, she works hard to bring attention to causes, local, national and international, in which human rights violations are being committed.

Bedwan, along with several other students formed the student chapter in spring of 2011. She joined first as a member and then became a VP, along with another student. There are about 20 students who attend meetings regularly, with many more who participate at events

Bedwan’s family are Palestinian and several members, including her parents, moved here from Jerusalem. Hearing accounts of the difficulties her family endured awakened her awareness surrounding conflict around the world. Her compassion for human suffering is not based on politics or religious ideology. She simply wants to bring awareness to the cause of human struggle in world.

Bedwan is majoring in cultural anthropology and enjoys learning about different cultures and their origins.

Her junior year, she spent a semester in India, where she met other students from all walks of life and a variety of cultures. Her surroundings were in stark contrast to what she was used to back home. Being around locals, who endured great poverty, lack of services and other challenging conditions, further inspired her to the plight of those suffering in the world.

The experience of living abroad made her want to travel as well as live in other places, especially where she believes she can make an impact.

“It takes a hold of you. I saw such a juxtaposition of extreme wealth and beauty, with poverty,” said Bedwan. In her work with Amnesty International, Bedwan, along with other students, engage in letter writing campaigns, petitions and demonstrations on a variety of issues. These efforts are applied to areas such as opposing the death penalty, advocating for better campus security to protect students from violence, partnering with the UNCC feminist club to support women’s rights, as well as human rights issues Amnesty supports around the world.

Bedwan has set high goals for herself for when she graduates this May. She plans to travel to countries where there is the opportunity for her to make a difference. One of the areas she feels called to help is in the Middle East, where much of her family still lives.

She intends to become a human rights attorney and hopes to attend George Washington University Law School, which has a respected human rights program. A law degree would serve to “give me access to get the real issues,” said Bedwan.

Another asset that will serve Bedwan well in her future work is her language skills. Bedwan is fluent in Arabic and would like to learn other languages.

Bedwanknows she wants to “actively fight against racism, classism, anywhere there is oppression.” She knows that change can only happen when we get beyond stereotypes and learn about the real human cost of injustice. This can best happen when we can “deconstruct images of preconceived ideas about people from other cultures,” said Bedwan.

“My main goal is to help people every day and help others to perhaps understand something they did not understand the day before.”

Bedwan lives with her family in the Village at Providence Glen.

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