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Academy of Art University Alumni Help Keep an Eye on Darfur

What if a website had the ability to spread public awareness and save the people of a struggling region? Faruk Sagcan and Tu Vu are using their creative skills to rescue the dying population of Darfur – and receiving international recognition.

When Tu’s advertising agency, Citizen Group, needed an art director for the Eyes On Darfur campaign, he recruited Faruk, his colleague from the Academy of Art University’s School of Advertising. Tu, the website’s copywriter, knew the campaign would benefit significantly under Faruk’s artistic and technical direction.

Both came to the Academy of Art University because they wanted to pursue a career in creative advertising. They were drawn to the MFA Advertising program because of the Academy of Art University’s edge in new media, as well as their instructors’ fruitful industry knowledge.

“There's a lot of change going on in the advertising world,” said Faruk.

Tu agreed, “This school has really done an excellent job of keeping the students current in an ever-changing landscape.”


A Sudanese refugee in West Darfur (Getty Images/eyesondarfur.org)

Using the knowledge and skills they gained at Academy of Art University, they had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of advertising campaigns, even before graduation. The Eyes on Darfur campaign, however, holds special significance to them, due to its potential to educate and inspire the entire world to take action.

The “global neighborhood watch,” led by Amnesty International USA’s Crisis Prevention and Response Center, uses satellite imagery to track 12 vulnerable villages in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Amnesty International hopes that private citizens, politicians and international courts will use the images to prevent further death and destruction.

“I’m really proud to work on a project that actually has a chance to really change things for the better,” said Tu, who knew very little about Darfur before he started working on the campaign. “ I hope this site catches on [and] can raise support for the people of Darfur, Sudan.”

So far, NPR, the Associated Press, USA Today and many other media outlets around the world have covered Eyes On Darfur. By frequently updating the website with new satellite images, photos of refugees, and reports, Tu and Faruk hope to keep it as relevant as possible and continue to hold the media and general public’s attention.

“You ask yourself questions like ‘Why does this have to happen?’ and ‘Why aren't superpower nations doing anything about it?’” said Faruk. “Regardless, we as individuals can do something about this or any other cause.”

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