It’s hard to put a face to a war that isn’t knocking on our doorstep.
Recently the image of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi’s body laying on beach in Turkey captivated audiences across the world and humanized a conflict many had previosly chosen to continue flipping past when it appeared on the evening news.
While two new students on the West Shore may have taken different paths than Kurdi, they are all too familiar with the horrors of daily life in Syria. These two refugees, now attending their first year at Pearson College in Metchosin, shared some of their experiences with their new classmates on Tuesday at a discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis. These experiences extended past bombs and included many things we here on the West Shore take for granted, like electricity for more than two hours a week.
But for them, their greatest disappointment was the way the world viewed the war in Syria. Their basic human rights, not to mention their lives, have been decimated as political powerhouses make a game out of this war.
They showed a short video when they finished saying their piece. The sound of a pin dropping could have been heard as the clip started to play, describing what Manhattan would look like if millions fled. The only screen this audience was glued to was the one playing in front of them as it announced that 1.5 million Syrian children have been forced to flee their homes.
Suddenly the war in Syria didn’t feel so foreign.
But the two Syrian students were not the only ones in the room with first hand experience overseas. A group of nine Pearson students travelled to Turkey this summer to work with Syrian refugees. Their experiences can only be imagined by some.
These young voices have stories to tell, and West Shore residents need to listen. It is not often that we can hear the first hand experiences of individuals who have lived through a war. Unfortunately, it is something that too many Pearson students, past and present, have in common.
Maybe by sharing their stories and learning from the experiences of their peers these students can go on to be the politicians, diplomats and peacemakers of tomorrow and create a world free of conflict. But for the time being their voices can shed a little humanity on the rest of us.