Benefit concert aims to connect global crises with personal experiences


Source: Annabel Edwards

Weinberg freshman Chaitra Subramaniam performs a song. She will perform in “Camp(us) Fire,” a benefit concert that aims to combine an understanding of global health with performance.

Stavros Agorakis, Reporter


With a spoken-word poem and a short story reflecting on their post-war experiences, two refugees will kick off an upcoming benefit concert aiming to explore global issues through performance.

The young refugees’ performance will be part of “Camp(us) Fire,” a music and storytelling benefit concert that will take place this Thursday at Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave. NU Community Health Corps and Sheridan Road Records have partnered to hold the first-ever annual concert, an event that aims to raise funds for greater local accessibility to health information and resources.

The two refugees will accompany speaker Ashley Marine, program director for Girl Forward, which provides services to resettled refugee girls in Chicago.

“I’m most excited for the girls to share (their stories),” Marine said. “This is a really big deal for them, and they’re super excited about getting to practice in front of a larger group.”

NU Community Health Corps is a student group that focuses on increasing access to health resources in the Skokie and Evanston area, while Sheridan Road Records is an independent student-run record label.

Event organizer Emery Weinstein said the concert’s theme, “Responding to Crises,” reflects the two group’s combined effort to build empathy through a mutual understanding of how ongoing global issues, such as mental health and refugee displacement, affect the society we live in.

“Bringing everyone together through music … to help share a message was a really good way to learn about what people are dealing with on campus and around the world,” the Weinberg senior said.

Weinstein said she came up with the idea for Camp(us) Fire when she was looking for an effective way to combine her passion for music and health by inciting strong community engagement. Ideally, she said she wanted to format the event so other people outside of the NUCHC community would be motivated to attend.

The current concert lineup includes both speakers and student artists who will discuss, reflect on global issues they feel strongly about or have been personally affected by, Weinstein said.

The event’s first artist will be Chaitra Subramaniam, a singer-songwriter who will perform original pieces and covers of artists that have influenced her own body of work. Although she has not fully interpreted the theme of “Responding to Crises” yet, the Weinberg freshman said she was initially approached by Weinstein because she explores social issues in her music.

In the song selection process for the concert, Subramaniam said she will focus on choosing tracks by performers who are “honest.”

“Music in a way is like a form of storytelling… I don’t think they’re two separate things,” she said. “It would be nice to have a mix (in the concert) and see different perspectives and different experiences.”

Marine said her engagement with Girl Forward has given her a unique perspective on the issue of refugee displacement and how it has affected people’s lives on a global level. She emphasized the importance of being aware of organizations that seek to solve these issues.

“Specifically when thinking about crises globally, many people think that there is nothing they can do,” she said. “So, you look at the war in Syria and you feel totally incapacitated in your ability to help, but there are a lot of organizations like Girl Forward here in Chicago that are trying to help girls who have experienced global crises.”

Personal stories, like those of the two refugees, will form a big part of the night, as they center on situations where people are misunderstood or persecuted for their differences, Weinstein said.

“Listening and knowing is probably the best thing we can do for these people,” she said.

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