Intern: Community Inclusion
Seattle, WA, USA
It was my senior year of college, and I was sitting in one of my last classes as an undergraduate. My professor had just asked us a question, but none of us knew how to answer it. We all sat there, stumped, unsure of what we wanted to say. Our professor had asked us, “If you could create an art project that had the power to bring out social change around the world - what would it be?”
What would it be? I thought. What did I want to fight for? What did I want to bring awareness to? Still unsure on how to answer it, he assigned it as our final project. As I sat there thinking later that night, my mind kept bringing me back to a year ago when I had the privilege of working with some of the most empowering women I’ve ever met. I was an assistant teacher that worked with immigrant and refugee women in my local community, teaching them basic sewing skills, industry specific vocabulary, and job-readiness training to hopefully help them find employment and provide for their families as they transition here in the U.S. Listening to their stories of their life back home, the hardship and struggles, the joys and memories – I often found myself lost in their stories of a beautiful place they all once called home. What had brought them to the U.S. was just a small fraction of a transition period in their life, it did not define who they were. They may have found refuge here, but they are mothers, teachers, business owners, designers, all just looking for a better future.
As I continued to think about this project, the Refugee Crisis was at its peak appearance on every news channel and media outlet. I had already been following along to the situation and I found myself constantly devastated to what was going on. I began to think about the lack of conversation that was shockingly absent about this issue, especially within my classes, amongst my peers, family, and friends. I began to map out the journey many of the Syrian, Afghani and other refugees take once they first reach the shores of Greece, making their way up through Macedonia, and eventually Germany. I wanted to draw awareness of this journey that thousands of individuals willingly take in the hopes of finding a better life. The hardships and struggles that are constantly met with time and time again at every border.
Throughout my research I found that there was a lack of transparency from what the media was providing, to what was actually happening. I began to dig deeper – I started following volunteers who were working with the refugee crisis, I followed their blogs, I added myself to volunteer groups on Facebook that gave constant updates on the hundreds of people that arrived on Greece’s shores each day – and those who did not make it. My journey on trying to bring awareness to the refugee crisis began.
Time went by, something else was now covering the nightly news, and mention of what was going on with the Refugee Crisis was minimal. Luckily I came across HumanRefuge(e), and they were the answer to exactly what was missing. As they highlight these inspiring individuals we are exposed to a large part of what the media leaves out – who these people really are. We may all have a past, and a story that goes along with it, but we are not defined by the small transitional periods life entails. I encourage you all to read their stories and follow along as they open up and share their talents, hopes and dreams for the future with the rest of the world!