Daniel Solomon, a junior at Georgetown University and national student director of STAND (the student-led division of United Against Genocide), traveled to Pittsburgh this past weekend to impart one message: The genocide taking place in Sudan “is not over.”
Speaking at local venues during his stay in Pittsburgh, Solomon, a Jewish student leader, captivated audiences with his wealth of knowledge on the issues taking place in the Sudan and his immense enthusiasm to inspire a means for global change.
He addressed audiences at the Hillel Jewish University Center and Congregation Beth Shalom.
One driving factor behind Solomon’s trip to Pittsburgh was the area’s commitment to widening STAND’s influence on a global level. With core chapters at the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, Solomon was anxious to connect with many young adults who share the same passion as he does to create change within our world.
“The change we want to take place is not something that can happen overnight,” Solomon said. “It is great to see how many students have the desire to commit to organizations such as STAND, to help bring change to the world.”
STAND has been called the fastest growing student movement in the world today. Since the first STAND chapter formed in 2004, the organization has grown into an international network of more than 850 chapters at schools around the world.
Many Jewish students, locally and nationally, have been attracted to this movement.
Solomon said he always knew he wanted to participate in a humanitarian organization such as STAND, and has taken paths throughout his entire life to ensure his voice will be heard. Growing up in New York City, Solomon went on to attend Georgetown University where he is majoring in international politics. He first became involved with STAND when he was appointed National Education Coordinator during the 2011 school year.
Over the last few years, Solomon admits the national swell to squash the genocide in Darfur has slowed.
“I think one of the reasons there is not as much out there on Darfur now is because it is not a hot-button issue,” Solomon said. “Just because it is not a hot-button issue does not mean the situation has gotten any better.”
Solomon’s visit to Pittsburgh was sponsored in part by the Allderdice branch of STAND. Eliza Pugh, a senior at Allderdice and co-president of the local chapter said bringing in Solomon to speak to the organization was important.
“It was great to have Daniel here,” Pugh said. “We try to do a lot as an organization, and Daniel has been a help.”
Pugh said the Allderdice branch of STAND has held fundraisers such as a Barnes & Noble gift-wrapping drive and bake sales to help raise money for the organization. She added that the group has tried to make connections with many local political leaders to generate awareness to their cause.
According to Pugh, Allderdice founded its branch of STAND during the 2006 school year. Since then, the group has grown and now has weekly meetings to discuss the state of the organization.
As Solomon displayed during his time in Pittsburgh, STAND is not merely an organization that simply raises money for those in need. During a question and answer-type setting at Beth Shalom Saturday, Solomon patiently answered a bombardment of questions from an audience that admittedly was ignorant of many of the issues taking place in the Sudan.
Solomon made it clear that educating the public on the issues at hand is just as important as any other function of the organization.
(Brandt Gelman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)