By Wu Xueting.
Ever wanted to be a wizard or witch? Harry Potter spoke for all of us when he gushed, “I love magic” upon seeing the Weasleys’ charmed tent, and his words could also apply to conjuring potable water from nothing, or an adorable patronus to fight real danger, or the healing spell! But magic isn’t limited to fantasy and special effects. You can perform such magic in real life: you can help families get a more comfortable home (or a home at all), ensure that more people in the world get access to safe water and sanitation, fight for the safety and health of people living in fear, and light up their faces with your joy. You can perform your own shield charm (that’s the “protego” in our name) to protect those facing discrimination. YER A WIZARD/WITCH TOO!
That’s why I started Singapore’s first official Harry Potter Alliance Chapter in USP last semester – I wanted to gather a group of people passionate about sharing the best magic of love and support: people who care about the local and global community, who will fight for the welfare and equal rights for everyone around us. The global US-based Harry Potter Alliance was formed in 2005 as a non-profit social activist organisation with a purpose to “turn fans into heroes”. As you can guess from its name, culture and narratives significantly shape the HPA’s interests and approach to activism. All over the world, in schools, libraries and other communities, people have formed their individual Chapters and participate in both global HPA and self-organised local projects. Through the super cool concept of “fan activism”, the HPA aims to make activism accessible and fun for all, especially for youths, through the power of story and fandoms. Now, if you’ve ever explored Tumblr, chances are high that you have experienced the enthusiasm of fandoms, if you’re not part of one already, reblogging away those photoset gifs. Whatever interest you share in books, music, movies, TV, sports or other hobbies, the HPA wants to channel your unironic enthusiasm for it towards every social issue out there: literacy, economic, racial, religious, gender, and LBGT equality, environmental concerns, human rights, and more. (Yup, it’s like a real Dumbledore’s Army!) These issues sound intimidating and challenging to tackle, but when we work collaboratively with friends there are many impactful and enjoyable activities that we can accomplish.
The HPA has organised many campaigns and projects over the years: for example, they successfully got all Warner Bros Harry Potter-licensed chocolates (chocolate frogs!) to abide by Fair Trade practices, they organise the annual Accio Books! book drive, campaigned for marriage equality, and used the Hunger Games messages to raise awareness regarding economic inequality. But aside from these big projects, Chapters meet regularly to watch movies or TV episodes together (Harry Potter and Doctor Who are some popular favourites) and to discuss afterwards the relevant social issues presented – that’s how we collaborate with cultural works for meaningful discussion and have fun! Our own Chapter in USP plans to organise a book drive in late March or early April, as part of Accio Books 2016. We need your help: visit our Facebook page to join us, or contribute your books when the time comes!
To find out more about USP’s HPA Chapter, portusprotego, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1503147433341984/ or contact Xueting at 91815819.
To find out more about The Harry Potter Alliance and the Accio Books! campaign, please visit http://www.thehpalliance.org/