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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Anna Kaminski and Tenzin Pelkyi Receive Human Rights Awards

AnnaTenzin.jpg The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies are thrilled to announce that Anna Kaminski, a junior majoring in Art, Global Studies and Social Justice, and Tenzin Pelkyi, a senior majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, received the 2nd Annual Inna Meiman Human Rights Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award, respectively.

The Human Rights Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies are thrilled to announce that Anna Kaminski, a junior majoring in Art, Global Studies and Social Justice, and Tenzin Pelkyi, a senior majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, received the 2nd Annual Inna Meiman Human Rights Award and the Sullivan Ballou Award, respectively.
Anna Kaminski
Anna Kaminski pic.jpg
Anna Kaminski has a passion and enthusiasm for human rights activism that is difficult to match. Traveling to Iraq as part of her work with the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP), Anna's passion is what allowed her to remain in the country even after the original teaching project fell through. According to the nomination letter submitted on Anna's behalf, "Without a classroom and with help from the director of the Muslim Peacemaker Team, [Anna] organized classes at restaurants, in people's homes, offices, and elsewhere around the city of Najaf. In addition, [Anna] went door to door organizing a community street clean up and pressured the local government to invest in garbage pick-up." Having been impacted deeply by her visit to Iraq, Anna returned to the states to publish writings about her time there. In addition, photos that she took while abroad have been exhibited in various venues this spring.
In Minnesota, Anna has worked to raise the visibility of human rights issues as one of the organizers of the 2011 and 2012 HeART Show, an arts collaboration featuring dozens of musicians, visual artists, speakers, and organizational co-sponsors. The 2011 HeART Show raised needed funds for the American Refugee Committee. This year's proceed went to Not for Sale, an organization focused on human trafficking.
Tenzin Pelkyi
Tenzin Pelkyi pic.jpg
Tenzin Pelkyi has worked tirelessly to advocate for human rights in her homeland of Tibet, while also striving to support the agency of Tibetan people throughout the diaspora, according to the nomination letter submitted on her behalf. She has used her energy and her voice to organize prayer vigils, march at protest rallies, and speak at demonstrations. Tenzin's leadership has been a vital boost to the work of the U of M chapter of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and to informing the University community about the situation in Tibet. She is currently working to bring Ngawant Sangdrol, the longest serving female Tibetan political prisoner, to the University to share her story. Another of Tenzin's efforts includes fostering peaceful dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese youth.
Tenzin's efforts go far beyond the local. She has been active in lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to support diplomatic action with regard to Tibet and she is currently helping to organize a Minnesota Tibet Lobby Day at the Minnesota State Capitol this session.
Anna and Tenzin clearly have the passion for putting themselves out there to promote and protect human rights. On top of balancing studies, work, friends, families and more, these two exemplary students are working hard every day to create positive change. We say "THANK YOU!"
The Awards
The Inna Meiman Award is given in recognition of the friendship between Inna Meiman, a Soviet era Jewish refusenik who was repeatedly denied a visa to seek medical treatment, and Lisa Paul, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, who fought tirelessly on her behalf, including a 25-day hunger strike that galvanized a movement for Inna's freedom. The friendship between Paul and Meiman is memorialized in the book, Swimming in the Daylight: An American Student, a Soviet-Jewish Dissident, and the Gift of Hope.
This year, we are delighted to establish a new award for undergraduates: The Sullivan Ballou Award is named after Major Sullivan Ballou, an Army soldier killed at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Ballou became the inspiration for this award because of the heartfelt commitment he expressed in a letter to his wife before the battle. The award carries on Ballou's spirit by honoring a student who acts from the heart and devotes heartfelt energy to those around them.
The celebration is hosted by the Human Rights Program in the Institute for Global Studies and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.