Friday, April 27, 2012
A game of throngs: The best of iReport this week

Come gather 'round! It was a protest-heavy and celebration-filled week on iReport. There were protests in Lithuania, Sudan and the Netherlands, see-sawing celebrations for Earth Day, the Chumash Festival  and Rome’s birthday.


Amidst all the chaos, we selected five of our favorite iReports this week you might have missed.

Stylish Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi


The Sikh Sabha of New Jersey held their annual parade for Vaisakhi, an ancient Punjabi harvest festival celebrated in northern India, on Saturday, April 21. iReporter Rachel Cauvin, who enjoys taking pictures of cultural events, said thousands lined up on Madison Avenue in New York City “to see the floats, marching bands, sword fighting and wheel spinning.”


“This was my first time going and I loved the bright orange colors and the beautiful, colorful sarees,” she said.


Cairo’s “Friday of Determination”


With hotly-contested elections looming in Egypt, thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, last Friday for what they called the “Friday of Determination.” Ahmed Raafat Amin said people from a variety of political backgrounds were present to protest against having the country’s constitution written by the transitional military government.


“People are excited about the upcoming elections since it’s the first post-Mubarak presidential elections, but there are fears of fraud as the military rulers that are still in power are people who are considered to be Mubarak’s men,” he said. “Many people fear that the military could interfere in the electoral process and change the results of the elections.”


Obama wows students at UNC


President Obama visited colleges across the country this week to deliver campaign speeches on student loans. His trip to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was well-received by iReporter Trevor Dougherty and his peers.

Although Dougherty currently doesn’t have loans, student debt still worries him. “There are plans for tuition increases at UNC, so my friends and the general college community are definitely worried about student loans and increasing interest rates,” the 19-year-old said.

“Obama won over the crowd at first with some references to UNC basketball, but his call for affordable higher education was what really resonated with all of us,” he said.


Rappers represent for Mumia


Rappers Chuck D of Public Enemy and M-1 of Dead Prez attended an “Occupy” protest for Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 24. Rene Carson attended to document the event and learn more about it.


“For me, it was really a learning experience, because I know very little about these subjects, so hearing people speak about different truths and statistics helped me understand things a little better,” Carson said.


Carson supports many of the issues that were scheduled to be discussed at the rally, such as prison and immigration reform.


Gaping great apes


Our last gathering: man and ape come together. James Amerson was invited to the Center of Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, where he was able to see apes in an almost-natural habitat.


“It is totally different from a zoo,” Amerson said. “A zoo is there to educate people about animals, and this sanctuary was created to rehabilitate and give back to creatures that had unfortunate beginnings.”


He explained that many of the apes were captured in the wild and sold as pets, while some were bred for Hollywood entertainment or the circus. Apes raised this way end up being too comfortable with humans, and lack survival skills.


“Primates are very social and territorial, these apes might be killed by their own species for being an outsider,” he said. “This is for the sake of these creatures, and for them to live their lives as close to apes as possible.” He said standing so close to the apes was an incredible experience.


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