Stellyes Lecturer Connects with Knox on Syrian Refugee Crisis
May 03, 2016
by Elise Goitia '18
How can students understand and learn about the Syrian refugee crisis with it occurring half a world away?
Recently, all they had to do was say hello to Hala Jadid Al Kash.
As Knox's 2016 Stellyes Distinguished Lecturer, Al Kash spent a week in April connecting with students on the Knox campus and spreading awareness about the dire situation faced by Syrian refugees.
"Even in a small town like Galesburg, we have a responsibility to help people," Lizz Fong '18 said after Al Kash visited a SASS (Students Against Sexism in Society) meeting. "What's the point of being at college if you're not going to aid the people who don't have the same opportunities as we do?"
Al Kash is a professor on the media and Arabic language in Granada, Spain, and the founder of Suriyat Sin Fronteras, or Syrians without Borders—a group of women active in aiding Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. A native of Syria, Al Kash is a firsthand observer of the hardships refugees have experienced since they began their migration to camps.
Al Kash began her week at Knox lecturing at the 2016 Global Learning Retreat. Following the event, she visited psychology, political science, and gender and women's studies classes. During evenings, she spoke with students individually and at clubs and organizations such as Model United Nations and SASS.
"It's so important to have speakers who specialize in this area, especially because it's a current event," said Jane Basten '17. "The more that people talk about the refugees rather than ISIS, the more we move forward. I'm 100% sure she opened the eyes of everyone here."
Al Kash started each of her lectures by asking students what they think of when they heard words such as "Syria," "Muslims," and "refugees." From there, she talked about how when people think of Syria, they think of a country in turmoil, rather than its cultural beauty.
"These people are not numbers, they are not a death toll," Al Kash commented as she met with students. "That is why we must help them. They are human."
Al Kash said that she feels she often learns more from students than they learn from her. She added that her experience at Knox was "fantastic" and that she hopes to return to campus in the future.
"I think her week-long visit was a really great idea, to get as many people informed as possible," said Joey Sinclair '18. "That's the only way you can do it, by going out and talking to people."
Al Kash's visit to Knox was part of the Stellyes Distinguished Lecture in Global Affairs series, which was established along with the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies as a gift from Eleanor Stellyes. Stellyes attended Knox from 1932 to 1934.