Why do people flee persecution and armed conflict? What happens to them once they have left their homes, their communities, their countries? Where does their journey take them? Who helps them, and who harms them along their path and when they reach their destination? How can we act, individually, and collectively, to ease their burden, help them adjust to new lives, and welcome them into our communities?
These are important questions of our time as millions of children, women, and men around the globe are displaced by force and fear of persecution, violence, and armed conflict. The numbers are staggering, the stories of loss and suffering tragic; but there are also stories of bravery, resilience, recovery, and rebuilding that need to be shared and celebrated.
The resources in these webpages provide a starting point for exploring and expanding understanding of the complex situation of the world today, and encourage consideration of the past to inform our interpretation of the present, and guide our future actions.
This theme is being woven into a wide variety of courses and Roger Williams University campus initiatives. For example, events scheduled for the fall semester include:
● A talk by Sana Mustafa, Syrian asylee and activist. 4:30 p.m., Sept. 22, Mary Tefft White Cultural Center, Library.
● “Displaced Minorities in the Middle East,” panel discussion, 5 p.m., Oct. 3, School of Law, Appellate Court Room 283.
● “Syrian Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism," presentation and roundtable discussions with Dr. Yasser Munif, Emerson College. 4:30-6:30 p.m., Oct. 12, School of Law Bistro.
● “Lual and Leila,” film screening and discussion with director and producer, 5 p.m., Oct. 21, and 10:30 a.m., Oct. 22, Global Heritage Hall 01. “Written, directed, filmed and acted by refugees,” according to Roger Williams, “the 20-minute film tells the story of a forbidden love between a Muslim and non-Muslim living in a refugee camp.”
● RWU Student Humanitarian Summit, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Oct. 23, Global Heritage Hall Atrium. This campus community convening will consider the global context of humanitarian needs, especially relating to the challenges of mass forced displacement of people today, and explore opportunities for campus community stakeholder engagement and action. Keynote presenter Mike Niconchuk will share his experience working with forcibly displaced populations in Central America and the Middle East, and how cognitive sciences can contribute to helping those who have suffered harm from such displacement. Recent, current, and contemplated work around international humanitarian issues will be showcased and explored, and participants will be challenged to share and build synergies across organizations, clubs, disciplines, schools, etc., and mobilize campus community interest around humanitarian issues.
● “Living in Limbo: Stateless Identities,” performance art installation, 1:50 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Nov. 11, Global Heritage Hall Atrium. RWU Dance and Performance Studies students enrolled in Advanced Choreography will explore the intimacies of universal themes common along quests for refuge - such as home, loss, disorientation, and the nature of hope amidst relentless challenge.
● Panel Discussion: "Middle Eastern Refugees in Europe and North America: Toward an Historical and Holistic Understanding of a Contemporary Human Crisis,” panel discussion, 4:30 p.m., Nov. 15, Marine and Natural Sciences Building, Room 200.
● “Quest for Refuge Community Conversation,” panel discussion hosted by Roger Williams president Donald Farish, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Nov. 21, School of Law, Appellate Court Room 283. President Farish will discuss the opportunities and challenges of Rhode Island as a place of refuge with local community leaders from Southeast Asia, Africa and Central America.