Today was an eventful day in the life of my independent project. Teacher Pat organized for me to go to Germantown Friends Meeting, where a man named Marwan Kreidie was giving a talk on Islamaphobia and Syrian refugees. Marwan is actually considered a refugee himself, his parents having immigrated from Lebanon just before he was born. Meeting with Marwan was a very helpful experience. By the end of the hour long talk, I not only had learned a lot, but had the names to several key organizations in the local area that are helping Syrian refugees. I hope to be able to use these contacts to set up a time to interview refugees, some footage of which I hope to be able to incorporate into my documentary.
Marwan also tackled a host of tricky subjects, such as the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee (in case you’re wondering, an asylum seeker is someone who has essentially “shown up at the border” seeking assistance where as a refugee has to become registered and go through a slew of other tests. Additionally, Marwan talked a little bit about the persecution of Muslims in America—more specifically the recent incident in which a pig’s head was thrown at a mosque in Philadelphia. He compared the current persecution of Muslims with that of other groups throughout American history—such as the hate crimes against Catholics in the 1840’s or against Jews in the early 1920’s. Not only doest this put modern day Islamaphobia in perspective quite well, but I think we can learn a lot about how to overcome this prejudice from history.
However, what I found most interesting of all the discussion is the fact that Allentown, Pennsylvania actually has one of the largest Syrian refugee populations in the country. Not only do I now have some invaluable resources nearby, but I have the ability to make an impact on our local community. Though I still may not know what my final product of this study may be, I can at least promise that.
If you’re interested in learning more about Syrian Refugees in Pennsylvania, check out this link: http://www.pym.org/join-work-syrian-refugee-crisis/