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John Abdulla '09 - Communication
Although still young, John Abdulla has committed himself to a life of service and continues to be a voice for those who have none.
Recently, the 2009 graduate spent 11 days in Rwanda as part of a human rights forum sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
He traveled with a group that included PAL Professor Patricia Kean and current student Sasha Almeda-Beers. While in Africa, he participated in several workshops and discussions, captured tons of video including interviews with local Rwandans, and also helped to build schools for the community.
But the reminder of the violence the war-torn country has seen in recent years was constantly at the forefront.
“The experience was life-changing; Rwanda is a beautiful country with amazing people. But it really opens your eyes to reality when you are standing on a site where not long ago, 50,000 people were killed as part of a larger mass genocide. It was very emotional to say the least.”
It is for reasons such as the Rwandan genocide that John Abdulla continues to fight the good fight. And those roots in activism harken back to his days at Curry College.
As founder of the ONE Curry Club, a student activist group that educates and empowers students through the national “ONE” campaign, Abdulla truly enlightened his fellow students, faculty and staff alike on the organization’s fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty.
“I think activism is an important component to the college experience,” he said in 2008. “It's important to learn and became aware of what is going on in the world, but also to take action and participate.”
Under Abdulla’s leadership, ONE Curry held numerous events to spread awareness and during one campaign raised over $11,000, used to build a well in Bor, Sudan. The project was to provide clean water to the home village of fellow club member Peter Nhiany ’09, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
On Abdulla’s watch, the Curry chapter was ranked 35 out of 1,300 chapters around the country, and he was one of 120 student activists selected from colleges and universities all over the U.S. to attend the first-ever ONE student summit in Washington, D.C.
A commuter student from Woburn, MA, he enjoyed traveling to and from campus because he could be fully involved at Curry but then separate himself at the end of the day.
“It was certainly more challenging to meet people as a commuter, but through communities like the First-Year Honors Program and ONE Curry, I made some lasting friendships and was able to stay involved on campus.”
Some of Abdulla’s most memorable experiences were in the First-Year Honors Program.
“As a first-year student, the program was truly eye-opening. The first semester focused on self-identity and the second semester focused on multi-cultural identity. The two semesters offered an expansive curriculum that has truly helped in every other course I have taken at Curry. The experience was in large part due to Assistant Professor Patty Kean's unique teaching style. We learned how we learn, were challenged to think deeper, and came out with a better understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.”
Abdulla also dove headfirst into his Communication studies and utilized all of the resources available on campus.
“I was impressed with the facilities at Curry, especially the Television Studio in the Hirsh Communication Center, and was excited about the film and TV courses offered. I really enjoyed my film classes, in particular the digital filmmaking class with Jerry Gibbs because it allowed us to get hands-on experience and work on our own film projects.”
He has continued to follow his passion for filmmaking post-graduation. He was the Associate Producer for a documentary focusing on the country of Burundi, a neighbor of Rwanda, and actually co-wrote the grant proposal for funding the film.
Abdulla plans on creating a documentary on his experience in Rwanda as well, using footage from the 34 hours of video he shot while in country.
Abdulla hosts a blog site where he discusses everything from activism to the recent late night talk show battles, and has even made public his recent battle with testicular cancer.
UPDATE: In the spring of 2011, Abdulla became the New Media Specialist at Oxfam America in Boston, focusing on search engine optimization for their website.
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