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Week of March 21, 2011

Peace Corps themed concert closes anniversary celebrations

Hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco will perform at a Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Benefit Concert, which will serve as a wrap-up to universitywide celebrations marking the anniversary of the conception of the Peace Corps by John F. Kennedy.

The concert is presented by the Michigan Student Assembly at 7:30 p.m. April 1 at Hill Auditorium.

Photo courtesy Lupe Fiasco.

“The heart and soul of this event is the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Throughout the year, we have seen an incredible array of events and ceremonies dedicated to its conception ranging from student symposiums to panels on specific regions that the agency has affected for the better,” says Ghida Dagher, a Dearborn Heights senior and MSA chief programming officer.

Music is the focus of the celebration because it is a universal language and a powerful tool for engaging the U-M community, Dagher says. MSA organizers plan to invite officials from the Peace Corps and the university to speak to the crowd before the concert.

Thousands of U-M students waited well after midnight on Oct. 14, 1960, when Sen. John F. Kennedy arrived at the Michigan Union after a long day of campaigning for the presidency. Speaking from the center of the stone staircase, he challenged students to dedicate themselves to global peace and justice by living and working in developing nations. Hundreds responded with signed petitions.

From that powerful idea and the action of the U-M students grew the Peace Corps, the signature program of the Kennedy administration that has defined international volunteer service for the past 50 years. Since 1961 nearly 200,000 Americans, including 2,400 U-M graduates, have lived abroad in the service of world peace, and making a difference in the lives of others.

While most events celebrating the Peace Corps happened during fall semester, a national celebration of the establishment of the Peace Corps is set for July in Washington, D.C. “We wanted to have something closer to the July celebration. We thought this was perfect before it was right before finals, as well,” she says.

Fiasco’s dedication to philanthropy and global activism is in keeping with the public service and global awareness represented by the Peace Corps and its universitywide celebrations throughout the year, she says.

Among other philanthropic efforts, Fiasco has worked with Summit on the Summit, a program to raise awareness for billions who lack sanitary drinking water, and with Music for Relief, a charity for the immediate relief and long-term recovery of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

Concert proceeds will support secondary education in Sierra Leone in West Africa. “This was our choice because we wanted to contribute to a cause that was educationally based. There is significant need for educational development in Sierra Leonne and that’s why we chose it,” Dagher says.

U-M departments, schools and organizations that have pledged financial support of the concert include the Office of the President, Division of Student Affairs, International Center, School of Public Health, School of Nursing, School of Art & Design, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Social Work, Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and University Health Services.

MSA organizers say information on ticket sales is forthcoming.



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