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  • good afternoon.

  • I'm delighted to be here.

  • Um, the refugee crisis is a perpetual crisis.

  • As long as there's been conflict, there have been refugees.

  • I myself am the child of Palestinian refugees their first born and raised in the country right across the river from the one they fled.

  • We were lucky.

  • My family escaped the drudgery Sze of the refugee camps to live a life of tenuous citizenry in the alternate homeland Al Watan Albert Deal Others around the world are not so lucky.

  • Many are settled where they initially arrive, their tents simply morphing into the sturdier stiflingly close zinc roof rooms of the shanty towns.

  • So many others never complete the perilous journey.

  • Countless refugees have drowned in capsized boats and rafts, asphyxiated in the cargo holds of otherwise seaworthy and roadworthy vessels and succumb to the limitations of their bodies, the elements and the relentless indifference, if not cruelty off the watching and waiting human race.

  • And indeed, over the past nine years, the human race has been doing much watching and waiting as hundreds of thousands of displaced and dispossessed human beings, the highest numbers since world war to make their way out of the conflict zones of the Middle East and Africa and up and across the Arab world and Europe.

  • And then there was island cruelty.

  • Do you remember him?

  • He drowned with his mother and his little brother on their way to Europe on a raft.

  • His three year old little body, seriously dressed for a dark and serious passage and moored by death on the shores of a resort town in Turkey, broke our hearts.

  • It was visual proof of a horror we knew existed because the news told us every day, but rarely saw in the media.

  • When is a violent death so delicate, so gentle, so unassuming, so non threatening as to be so easily share a bowl that fall of 2015 Europe's conscience quickened for a brief moment.

  • Hungary, gatekeeping for itself in the rest of Western Europe, temporarily eased its chokehold on thousands of refugees trying to make their way.

  • North Germany temporarily accepted with open arms, the streaming multitudes, England grumbled, anemic Li about quotas, and the pope Pope Francis called on every parish in Europe.

  • Tau host one refugee family.

  • But what did academic institutions do with the broken hearts with the dead and dying bodies with the endless convoy of humanity trying to make its way from misery to the unknown.

  • What is our responsibility of students and teachers and administrators of higher learning?

  • What is our complicity and accountability as institutions built on the lens of the displaced and the dispossessed?

  • Our go to is to objectively educate toe lift consciousness to raise awareness.

  • And surely these air admirable goals.

  • What is nobler than the desire to impart knowledge, to broaden horizons, to engender useful, meaningful, productive conversations to challenge and engage?

  • I've come to see these endeavors, however, as one's firmly grounded in and ones which facilitate the detachment and deeply, deeply ization of academic institutions.

  • They're ensconced in the life of the innocent mind, and for lucky they might extend to the belief that the mind will influence the soul which will influence the body, which will then do.

  • Please don't misunderstand me.

  • I love teaching on the kind of teacher who all but bounces off the classroom walls.

  • However, my annual post summer returned to the daily routine of college life had long been steeped in the Malays that drains that lead, ins the legs and keeps them off the walls and on the ground.

  • That deepening sorrow had a lot to do with how little I felt I was able to accomplish outside of my metaphoric institutional walls because I was getting tired of the vigils of the panels of the teachings of plucking a button signing my name.

  • Don't forget your institution on an online petition or letter that fall of 2015.

  • All I wanted to be with someone living in Europe who owned a car so I can be part of that.

  • Not long enough convoy of vehicles driven by Austrian activists making their way south to Hungary to carry back up the thousands to long convoy of human beings making their way north to Germany.

  • But I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Gate City, and then a thought circled round.

  • What if you saw the college or university campus not as a disembodied beehive of thinkers or learners, but as much a place as it is a body?

  • And, of course, the campus is a body.

  • It's a body politick.

  • It's a self governing, self regulating, self sufficient city, the Arabic word for college or university campus.

  • It is hot, Al Haram and Jamari.

  • It means a place that is both inviolable and sacred, a sanctuary, a refuge.

  • And then the thought circled in.

  • I might not be in Europe with a car, but I am in another popular refugee destination with something even better a college campus.

  • And then the thought settled.

  • If we saw the college or university campus in this other embodied way, right as a place as a body, could we not expand our response to the refugee crisis beyond the vigils beyond the panels beyond the food and clothes drives?

  • If the U and the U.

  • N have called on Arab and European nations to taken their quota of refugees, and if the pope called on every parish in Europe to host a refugee family, could we not see the college or university campus a similarly responsible as a country or a parish and capable of hosting refugees?

  • What I'm suggesting here entails a radical reimagining, a revision ing of what a college or university campus cannon should be a physical place of refuge in times of crisis, and a campus is organically well suited for this.

  • We just need to relook at it that way.

  • That's all.

  • And when we do, we see how, just like a small city, a campus has everything necessary to allow it to function like a city.

  • We have housing, We have cafeterias, we have clinics and we have plenty of human.

  • Resource is expertise and connections to provide financial, social and cultural support.

  • In fact, if you think about it, the college or university campus has more material and human resource is than almost any other organization in this powerful act of revision, what has to be adjusted.

  • What has to change is us, not the place.

  • The Sears vision has to be corrected so that a space we inhabit daily we show up every day we've normalized.

  • We see it as one thing could be reimagined, re seen as another.

  • So for me to see my campus, Guilford College, differently, to use it differently to reshape its contours, I had to look at it and knew with fresh and urgent eyes, because for the longest time, I've always seen and understood higher education.

  • The place where I live, where I teach as a place fundamental toe acts of cleaving and leavening building an unsettling right.

  • We like we like to disrupt, but my revision of it has been animated by an ethos of wholeness, Right?

  • So now in my classes, for example, I teach forced migration and resettlement studies.

  • I teach Arab women writers.

  • I teach refugee and immigrant literature more than simply tryingto bridge what happens inside of traditional teaching spaces with what happens outside of them.

  • I try to teach in a way that makes it impossible for my students to compartmentalize those spaces I teach in a way that makes them see how the outside and the inside are of the same place.

  • How the fundament, How fundamentally the wellbeing off one, right, so the supposed inside, but also the self.

  • The singular is connected to the well being of the other, the supposed outside, but also the presumed other.

  • Our beings within us in between us are inter, sectional and inseparable, and has to be.

  • They have to be approached a such as a whole.

  • In short, this is an incredible opportunity for everybody involved.

  • Imagine it.

  • A community comes together, drawing on its many skills in law, in medicine, in language and education and advocacy to give a family that needs a safe refuge a safe home, a campus.

  • This has to be done, however, without exploiting the refugee family.

  • But it has to be done with intentionally crafted attention to their dignity and their agency.

  • So it Guilford College, where I teach and where we might righteously see these endeavors as a natural extension of our core values, were a Quaker school.

  • And also our historical legacy is part of the underground railroad.

  • We must also rightly see them as necessitated by another legacy.

  • We've inherited that of empire building and colonialism and global politics, which have displaced and dispossessed the indigenous people of this land.

  • The Catawba.

  • That's a pony, the sorrow and many others around the globe.

  • We have to engage in these meaningful acts of solidarity while subjecting them to rigorous self awareness and criticism.

  • So that fall in 2015 I walked into Guilford College, is president's office, and I asked for a house on our campus Tau host refugees and she said, very simply, yes, and every campus a refuge was born.

  • We partnered with local organizations, including local refugee resettlement agencies, to design a campus based hosting initiative built around the needs agency and dignity of the guests, we would be hosting and restored every possible resource at our disposal.

  • I call myself a hacker.

  • I'd like to hack.

  • My institutional resource is.

  • And when I say our I mean an expansive, our beyond Guilford College.

  • Those resources include, of course, housing, but also the career center, the gym facilities and, in one very important and remarkable example, when we hosted a calligraphy ist and an artist, our art department, it's art supplies and then our art gallery in the library to exhibit his work.

  • Where else but on a college campus is they're both housing on an art department and a gallery.

  • Most importantly, we also steward, um, the resource is of those willing, able, trained volunteers who bring their skills, their passions, their interests, their disciplines to this asset based community of practice that provides a softer landing and a stronger beginning to refugees resettling in Greensboro.

  • Since January of 2016 we have hosted 52 refugees on our campus.

  • 26 of them have been Children.

  • They have come from Syria.

  • I talked, um, the Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, and I'm very happy to announce that on March 3rd we will be receiving and hosting a family of five, which includes three Children.

  • This is the first family that will be hosting from South America.

  • They have all successfully, the ones that we've hosted.

  • Resettled in Greensboro.

  • There are six other every campus refuge chapters, including right here at Wake Forest, who have collectively hosted more than 100 refugees.

  • My students and I continue to call on others to similarly revision higher education in this way, including at the United Nations at Guilford College.

  • I've also designed a minor where students can study, think about, engage these issues right there on their campus in their city, unearned credit for the work of hosting refugees and supporting them in resettlement.

  • The U.

  • S is accepting historically low number of refugees, the lowest, but all of them will be headed to a place where there's a college or university campus in the face of this catastrophe.

  • Really, this multi faceted disaster, one with deep and far reaching psychological, physical, economic, political, social damages, the cost of hosting a family on campus grounds is truly minimal, its rewards are astronomical, and a family would find a small country whose citizens share the responsibility and the joys of a given, giving them a campus a refuge.

  • I'd like to end on a poem that I wrote after a conversation I had with the teenage boy in the first Syrian family that we hosted.

  • The poem is entitled Blood and Blood Means the Old Country in 11 tine Arabic, He said It was a country then, and by country he meant that the sky rained water, not shrapnel, that the earth grew cedars, not teetering columns.

  • All that is left of the buildings that the neighbors came over for tea Unmasked gun lis, he said.

  • The whole family would go to the shore, deck the sand with barbecue pits.

  • The men falling in rose to play the door back by the water line.

  • Now they are dumping the bodies in the sea.

  • No place to bury them, they said.

  • Why don't they bury them in the desert?

  • The desert is so vast and can hold so many bodies.

  • I have no answers for his question.

  • Conversations like these are one sided, and what could I have said?

  • That perhaps overwhelming death, coupled with persistent threat, necessitates a quickness.

  • The rushing of the waves provides the sea is a place that is somewhere there beyond the water line.

  • That is why the others are leaving.

  • While your parents have left here on the side of the water line is nowhere.

  • Thank you.

good afternoon.

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Revisioning the University Campus | Diya Abdo | TEDxWakeForestU

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/13
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