CINCINNATI -- Two years ago, Adam Sella went to Morocco for six weeks to study Arabic on a U.S. State Department scholarship.
"I made a few friends. I met some refugees and I realized that using languages can actually help in communicating with and helping people, especially refugees, assimilate in our society," said Sella, 17, a Clifton resident who is continuing with Arabic evening classes at the University of Cincinnati.
"I found the whole experience inspiring."
Sella stayed with a host family and he appreciated how they shared everything with him, even though they didn't have that much to share. He began to realize that not everyone in the world has the opportunities many Americans take for granted.
This also marked the period during which Sella first became aware of the global refugee crisis, and he wished, somehow, that he could make a difference.
Last year, he founded an organization called STAR (Students Together Assisting Refugees) at Walnut Hills High School to raise awareness and aid for refugees.
Since its inception, STAR has held school events to which refugees were invited to speak, where a movie dealing with the refugee crisis was shown, and where donations of household items benefiting more than 260 local refugee families were collected.
STAR members also volunteer as mentors and tutors for refugee children at the Academy of World Languages through RefugeeConnect.
But Sella still wasn't satisfied. He wanted to do more.
Then he hit upon the idea of organizing a concert to raise money for Cincinnati Public Schools' refugee-student scholarships.
On Oct. 18, Walnut Hills High School's STAR group will present a benefit chamber concert featuring Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Timothy Lees and other principal musicians at the Walnut Hills High School library.
If they completely sell all the tickets, Sella said, they can raise $3,000. With donations, that figure could rise to $5,000, he said. All proceeds will go to RefugeeConnect, the organization that will administer this scholarship.
Music is in Sella's genes. His mother, Gillian Sella, is the CSO's principal harpist.
And his empathy for refugees comes from his father, Uri, a lawyer who emigrated from Israel years ago.
Sella, who has a younger sister, Tamar, 13, and a younger brother, Mischa, 10, describes his family as "multicultural."
When he graduates, Sella says, he wants to become either a social worker or a diplomat.
Meanwhile, he is focused on expanding STAR locally and nationally, helping students set up their own chapters.
Sella says he has a simple creed he lives by:
"My philosophy on life is to take advantage of being young to do good things because I've noticed that people are eager to help young people trying to make a difference."