Friday, March 02, 2007

Refugee Reality Night

The Fairview social space was transformed on the evening of March 1st, in a way that extended beyond aesthetics. Sure, the countless WUSC posters, display boards, colorful rugs, African throws and paper lanterns did create a comfortable ambiance. But it was the connection between seven student speakers and an audience of over forty, that created a true sense of community.

The night began with a short video from LINK, a community-based NGO that partners with high school refugee students in the greater Vancouver area to try and offer social and academic support. One of UBC’s residence advisors shared her experiences of growing up in the former soviet union and living in various refugee camps due to the political leanings of her parents. She was followed by Garang Abuk who offered insight into refugee life at Kakumba camp, emphasizing the social problems that arise from a lack of educational opportunities. Wondim spoke next about the determinism and social activism of refugees who have nothing to loose accept their will. Abdual, a refugee from Somalia, then gave an impromptu account of how he left a refugee camp in Botswana and made his way to UBC. Last, but not least, was Ahmed Khan, a UBC graduate from Sierra Leone, who took a more intellectual and academic approach to these issues.

Overall the night stimulated a lot of engaging discussion – lasting over three hours (don’t worry, there was lots of Thai food and Pizza to keep everyone full of energy). In the end, our night achieved its goals: it brought a much deeper awareness and understanding to a lot of fundamental issues surrounding the refugee experience, and inspired many people to come ask us about WUSC and how they can get involved. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm, time and effort!.


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