Since 2011, Syria has devolved into one of the greatest humanitarian crises in human memory. What began as a non-violent movement for democracy has collapsed into a debacle of death and despair, inhumanity and ideology. Despite outcries around the globe, international policy remains paralyzed. Russian and regional rivals’ interests have been allowed to reduce the Syrian conflict from a revolution of the people into a chess-board for predatory policy and power. It is under this scenario that the Syrian refugee crisis has forced war-fleeing Syrians to endure persecution and desperately pursue shelter in lands often thousands of miles away from home.
As a result of the humanitarian crisis, a movement for international justice for Syria has consumed American higher education. Last year, Middlebury College sponsored a conference on the Syrian conflict and the met the demands of Go/Refuge to provide scholarships to refugee students. This year, Go/refuge has come to expand its operations and is honored to present, in collaboration with the MCAB Speakers Committee, the MCAB Syria Symposium, which will not only follow this example, but go farther than Middlebury and higher education have before. The Symposium will bring together academics, activists, and poets in a conference fully dedicated to the Syrian conflict. Speeches will be delivered, and questions answered by some of the most prominent voices in the Syrian community. Workshops on various aspects of the Syrian conflict, including the power of activism through social media and the role of education in the context of the refugee crisis, will also be held. The MCAB Syria Symposium will thus not only raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis on Middlebury’s campus, but also provide examples of effective measures that can be taken in response to it. As we have seen through instances such as the Rally for Refugees this past J-Term, the support for refugees among our community is great – and the Symposium serves as a chance to see the many ways in which our community can contribute to concrete positive social change for refugees.
Diya Abdo, founder of the “Every Campus a Refuge” project, which calls for higher education institutions across the U.S. to help Syrian refugee families by providing them with shelter, supplies and integrating them into a community before they can actually start living on their own. The program has been implemented successfully at Guilford College and three other campuses and continues to expand.
Maya Alkateb, co-founder and leader of the United World Colleges (UWC) scholarship program and former director of admissions in UWC U.S. She is currently part of the leadership team in Jusoor, an NGO run by Syrian expatriates supporting the country’s development through programs in education, career development and global community engagement.
- Sponsored by:
- Middlebury College Activities Board