This is a guest post written by our Brussels Youth Ambassador, Paulina Galzignato.
Do you think music can change the world? We do!
In 2013, ONE launched Agit8 (get it?!), a music-based campaign where dozens of musicians from across the globe contributed their songs to the fight against extreme poverty. These protest songs proved the inspiration for our own awareness raising event: karaoke!
As Angelique Kidjo, special adviser to the Agit8 campaign, said, “We have seen great progress when people join forces to demand change. If enough people add their voices to the chorus of protest, world leaders will be forced to hear us and act.”
Those words became the motto of the Leuven Group of Youth Ambassadors in Belgium and with exams coming up, karaoke was the perfect stress-relief for the university’s students!
After the first brave singer got us under way, a constant stream of students and passionate karaokers crooned, screamed, and belted out an eclectic mix of Eurovision classics, epic ballads, and of course, U2 songs as we engaged with the crowd and spoke to them about ONE.
Halfway through the event, Ine and I made a presentation to explain how important it is to turn up the volume and make protests too loud for politicians to ignore. The theme of the Karaoke Night was “Poverty is Sexist” and we aimed to highlight how gender inequality unfortunately goes hand-in-hand with poverty, meaning that women in the poorest countries are often hit the hardest.
Karaoke was the perfect way to get students in Leuven involved with our campaign, because at ONE, “we’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice!” And is there any greater (or more fun!) way of expressing your point of view than through the notes of a powerful song?!
The students listened carefully to the presentation and were all enthusiastic to join the campaign by signing the Poverty is Sexist open letter, as well as symbolically signing a ONE canvas with finger-paints! The magic of the notes of the songs enveloped everyone in a big communal bubble of happiness with everyone wanting to sing their hearts out.
When people come together and raise their voices, amazing things can happen. The night ended with the whole room of 60 students singing “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas—a beautiful reminder of how the power of music can unite and bring people together for a good cause.
As Ed Sheeran, who recorded a new version of Bob Dylan’s classic “Masters of War” for Agit8, said: “Music is a powerful tool in galvanising people around an issue. There’s no better way to get your point across than to put it in a beautiful song.”
And now, Leuven knows that, too.