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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 29, 2004

International Day Celebrates Arts, Culture, Human Rights Advancement

The role that art, music and dance play in the struggle for human rights will be the focus of the University of Iowa's eighth annual International Day Nov. 10, an event that will also feature artwork depicting global child labor from students in Cedar Rapids, Marion and Iowa City.

"International Human Rights in Arts & Culture" is the theme of the event, which is being sponsored by the UI College of Education and other institutions as part of the UI's Year of the Arts and Humanities (YAH) celebration. Activities will run from 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union's Main Lounge.

The keynote speaker will be Liz Shropshire, who has 20 years of experience as a composer and music teacher, and who founded the Kosovo Children's Music Initiative to establish musical education and performance programs to advance the welfare of Kosovar children and communities. KCMI's mission is to redress psychosocial trauma, advance emotional health, develop scholastic achievement, foster ethnic tolerance, promote peace, and improve the quality of life for war-affected children and adolescents in Kosovo by establishing ongoing music education and performance programs. To date, KCMI programs have benefited more than 3,000 Kosovar, Albanian, Serbian, and Roma children.

International Day is dedicated to educating Iowa's youth about international human rights. Each year, a specific theme is selected by committee members who serve on a voluntary basis. This year, 280 students from 21 schools have registered to participate in a series of special workshops centered on different aspects of arts and cultures.

In a special project funded by YAH, students from three schools -- Prairie Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar High in Marion, and City High in Iowa City -- have spent the past three months producing artwork about global child labor. The artwork will be exhibited as part of International Day and will be used as educational media to raise awareness about the abusive and exploitative forms of labor inflicted upon 246 million children around the world. Teachers participating in this project will be present as facilitators. And as in previous years, students will take part in a variety of workshops organized by UI faculty, staff, students, and other community members.

"Different art forms have proven to be effective educational tools for raising awareness about human rights issues such as the most severe forms of child labor," said Gregory Hamot, UI professor of education and chair of the International Day Planning Committee. "We have also seen cases where art has been used to promote the healing of victims, including children, who have suffered from traumatic experiences such as civil wars and genocide. Recognizing the power of arts and cultures, our committee decided to focus on this theme for the 2004 program to educate our youth about critical human rights issues."

Jill Goldesberry, program officer with Community Partnerships-from the Stanley Foundation and a member of the International Day Planning Committee, said she is excited to hear Shropshire's presentation.

"We are extremely fortunate that Ms. Shropshire has graciously accepted our invitation to serve as the keynote speaker," Goldesberry said. "Her work and dedication to music have had a profound and positive impact on children who are suffering from the aftermath of war and other humanitarian crises. She will be a great inspiration to all of the school children participating in this year's International Day."

At the end of the day, participants will be treated to a special production of "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes," performed by the Central Iowa Youth Ballet, that tells the story of the atomic bomb and the death of Sadako, the well-known story of a child's optimism amid the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. The performance also tells the story of Sadako's friends and their determination to spread the message of peace and remembrance. The production encourages students to think of themselves as active contributors to building a peaceful and more humane world.

International Day is jointly sponsored by the Stanley Foundation, the Year of the Arts and Humanities Fund, UI College of Education, UI International Programs, UI Center for Human Rights, UI Office of Admissions, UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, UI Community Credit Union, and private donors.

UI President David Skorton's determination to increase public awareness and support of the rich tradition of arts and humanities on campus and throughout Iowa led him to declare academic year 2004-2005 the Year of Arts and Humanities, a time to celebrate that rich tradition and forge cultural linkages between the academic community and communities around the state. The Year of the Arts and Humanities is supported by the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-president for Research and the Graduate College.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,; Program: Sandra Gerard, 319-335-5377,

OTHER INFORMATION: For more information on Ms. Shropshire and KCMI, visit For more information on "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes", visit


Photo 1: Liz Shropshire, founder of the Kosovo Children's Music Initiative, with a group of children in a heavily damaged building next to the Slovene Village Transit Shelter Camp, where all of the children in the photo live. All of the children lost their homes in the war, many living with widowed mothers.  The home in the photograph was the site of a massacre where many people were killed -- possibly the entire family who lived there. Shropshire was taking photos of the building when a group of camp children saw her and ran up to meet her, yelling "Liza."

Photo 2: Shropshire with two Albanian girls, sisters, in Kosovo. The girls lost their father and their home in the war.

Photo 3: A teacher trained by the Kosovo Children's Music Initiative leads a class and helps one student learn to play the harmonica.