MALANI ADKINS — The experiences that refugees have gone through can sometimes become largely unrecognized in college communities. There is often the question of how these communities can bring this knowledge to light, which is why there is Denison Refugee Awareness Week (RAW).
RAW is an organization that dedicates an entire week to discussing and dehumanizing the refugee experience. Each day, there are different speakers and performances that take place in different areas on campus. There will be guest speakers that are brought on to the Denison campus, but there will also be Denison students and faculty members that will be engaging in RAW.
Madina Khudaynazar a senior international studies major from Mazare, Afghanistan is the creator of RAW, who started the organization during her freshman year and has continued to run it up until her senior year at Denison. “I was a First Year in 2015 and that’s where it was the height of it and that was, we [the media] was talking about refugees escaping to Europe,” Khudaynazar said. “I’m a refugee from Afghanistan. My family and I came over when I was three years old and it’s something that is a part of my identity. When I saw the Syrian refugee crisis happening, I just couldn’t understand why people didn’t care. Being one [a refugee] is very engraved in my everyday being, so let’s bring it on to campus… I realized that my identity has a lot to do with being displaced. I’m not only just Afghan, a part of my identity is being a refugee too.”
Khudaynazar hopes for RAW to continue and prosper even after she graduates.
“RAW is supposed to be growth in understanding, empathy and caring,” said Khudaynazar. “I hope that that continues and will create more informed citizens.”
Then, on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in Higley Auditorium, Dr. Maya Arakon of the International Studies department will speak about her experience as a political exile from Turkey and the effects of displacement. An hour later, Dr. Ocak from the International Studies Department will discuss the historical background and implications of the European “refugee crisis” for the people on the move as well as the European states and citizenry. She will be joined by Dr. St-Georges from the Modern Languages Department who will be offering insight on U.S. economic military intervention in Central America and Mexico.
The two professors will also inform the audience of a comparative analysis of United States/Latin America and France/Syria border relations. Lastly, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Denison Library is when the Denison students will speak and share their stories of the obstacles and challenges, they overcame when they had to rebuild their lives in the United States.