No Lost Generation hosts inaugural AU gala
Community members gathered at the School of International Service to support refugee rights
No Lost Generation held its inaugural gala to raise money and awareness for refugees on April 1 in the School of International Service, which included former Ambassador to Zambia Mark C. Storella as a distinguished guest. Storella is the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
No Lost Generation is a collaborative network of college organizations that seeks to support refugees. This student initiative has expanded to include chapters at 50 colleges and universities since its founding in 2015 at George Washington University.
AU formed a chapter this year filled with students who have advanced No Lost Generation’s mission on campus. This includes a a rally in support of immigration rights that the group held in February.
Shayna Vayser and Andrew Rogan are the student co-executive directors of the AU chapter of No Lost Generation.
“There are a few things we are trying to do to engage more with the refugee community as a result of this gala,” Vayser said. “We want to promote engagement at every level, and we also want to raise money for the cause, which we are donating to the United Nations program Adopt-A-Future.”
Adopt-A-Future works to educate a new generation of refugee children and was the recipient of all proceeds from gala ticket sales.
Rogan said the Adopt-A-Future campaign is unique because all of the money raised goes directly to two refugee camps in Kenya, in the towns of Kakuma and Dadaab.
“The reason this gala is so important is because it promotes these provisions of actual guidance and materials which can permanently impact and improve refugee lives,” Rogan said.
Rogan also detailed additional plans that the club has for the future.
“A number of future initiatives are going to begin in promotion of more fundraising and more engagement with the community to advocate for refugees,” Rogan said. “In the upcoming fall semester specifically, students will have an opportunity to join a panel committee and a funding committee that will work with the No Lost Generation.”
The gala was packed with over one hundred people buzzing around networking with each other and appreciating the music, food and art. One of the most exciting parts of the event was when Associate Dean for Curriculum and Learning in the School of International Service Rose Shinko introduced Ambassador Mark Storella as the night’s keynote speaker.
Shinko is currently the deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. He has a longstanding commitment to humanitarian affairs and human rights.
“All the folks who have been organizing this, I want to tell you that I am thoroughly excited to join you tonight,” Storella said at the beginning of his speech. “You are brought together because you care about humanitarian affairs and you are very right to.”
Storella continued by telling the story of his first engagement in refugee affairs which began during his education when he saw a sign looking for people to help Vietnamese refugees. He was inspired to commit to this cause after seeing how much help he could provide to a family which he assisted in finding jobs, getting driver's licenses and becoming accustomed to American life.
“The refugee issue is going to be a defining challenge of your lives,” he told the crowd. “It has affected politics on a world stage and is going to get even more important.”
Speaking on the causes of the refugee crisis, he said “Conflict is now the biggest drive of refugee migration, but with increasing environmental challenges, the crisis will be heightened because as resources become more scarce, conflict becomes even more common.”
The quality of the lives of refugees are of great concern to Storella, he noted solemnly.
“Refugees are subjected to being captured, they are subjected to being enslaved, and they are subject to being murdered,” he said.
However, Storella still had an optimistic outlook on the future, ending his address by encouraging students to get involved in refugee rights.
“What we have to do is to get all the countries in the world to dedicate themselves to helping refugees and the permanently displaced,” he said. “What I hope you recognize, is the you are a part of a movement.”