Imagine placing your life in backpack. This is a reality for many Syrian refugees. According to Time magazine, a young couple, Faez and Shaza al Shara, fled Syria in 2013 with only “clothing, photos from their wedding and a few keepsakes: a set of colored bowls they had received as a gift, a glimmering golden plate inscribed with the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.”
President Trump issued an executive order on Friday, January 27, a travel ban that some have dubbed the “Muslim ban” because it placed a 90-day visa suspension on people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States. The ban also suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, and there is an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
On Monday, January 30, many members of the Dana Hall faculty read aloud the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights at Morning Meeting to illustrate that opposition to the travel ban is due to its violation of universal human rights, not due to disapproval of the Trump administration. Ms. Alexandra Siemon, Social Studies teacher, says the reading of the document came from the need to “send a sign of support to confused and concerned students that they were not alone in their worry.”
Salaam, Dana Hall’s Muslim cultural club, has also seen this need, and is working with the Library to create a “What We Carry” display to bring awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis to the school. The display will include backpacks filled with the items a family carried while they were fleeing Syria, such as that carried by the al Sharas.
Jackie Hayre Perez ’17, member of Salaam and creator of the “What We Carry” project, says, “The display is intended to humanize a vast crisis, to share stories instead of numbers, and to make the consequences of national and international decisions tangible and real on a more personal level.” She hopes to have the the display in the Library for an extended time to serve as a constant reminder of the injustices people face throughout the world.
Ms. Angela Macedo, Advisor to the Community Service Advisory Board, encourages Dana Hall students to volunteer in refugee communities in Boston, specifically the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, and the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center. She says donating time, such as babysitting, is as significant as donating money.