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Flying Dutchman: Josh Gwin

By Emily Rivard, Features Editor

From the depths of Rwanda and the heart of the Sudan, Josh Gwin is bringing the refugee experience and human rights violations from remote parts of the world to the frontlines of the University's campus.

Apart from his duties as an RA in Liberty/Republic Hall and an intern for the Center for Civic Engagement, the junior political science and global studies major with a regional focus on Africa uses his knowledge to make an impact both on and off campus.

As founder and president of Hofstra for Human Action, Gwin focuses his efforts not only on drawing attention to the human tragedies that occur across the globe, but also on promoting relief efforts that students can become involved in.

"Human action is a different type of group on campus. We call ourselves a group as opposed to club because we act different—we're a little bit more ‘hardcore' than others, we like to do to big events, we like to think big and take things up a notch," said Gwin.
Meeting twice a week, Hofstra for Human Action uses one day to focus on preparation and one day to focus on education.

"This year, we've had intense studies…on current events and why things are happening. We learn about situations where human rights are being abused and assign action to fight for human rights."

Aside from hosting events like protesting outside Fort Benning in Georgia and bringing refugees to campus to speak to the student body, Gwin is passionate about informing students on the plight of human rights violations and what they can do to help.

"I want students and faculty and community to become aware of these issues, but I also want them to feel like they can do something about it. Too often we are told that we are just students. Screw that! We're not just students! We're trying to give people inspirations to promote change; we see that as completely possible," said Gwin.

Gwin believes that students at the University can re-define the college experience from one focused on grades and GPAs to one focused on activism.

"Personally, I'm trying to devote my life to advocating human rights and protesting against mass atrocities like genocide. I'm passionate about that and want to get into political advocacy for humans. Our parents were active in college…I'm trying to show that we can define our experience by something bigger and more important, that we can take on something bigger than ourselves."

Next week, the Hofstra for Human Action group will be hosting the Refugee Campus, in which students will get together for an entire week to portray a refugee camp. The week will include staying in tents to portray refugee camps from around the world, but also include several speakers to promote activist training.

"Don't ever accept ‘no' for an answer. In my experience, I've had some bureaucracy telling me no or that I'm just a student. Students just can't accept that," said Gwin.

Josh Gwin is an intern for the Center for Civic Engagement and is a Resident Assistan in Liberty/Republic Hall. (Photo courtesy of Josh Gwin)

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