Leffler Lecture preview activities shed light on global refugee crisis

Emily Seiser November 16, 2017 0

This past week, orange construction netting has been wrapped around the railings at the High Library. Inside the library, there were footprints leading to the “Steps to Seeking Refuge” exhibit.

A small table near the entrance of the library held books and information about refugees. Near the table, several tents were set up resembling a refugee camp. The tents contained information about refugee living situations, schools and other aspects of refugee camps. This exhibit is one of many activities to promote the Leffler Lecture Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

Besides the tents, there were other interactive parts of the “Steps to Seeking Refuge” exhibit. Visitors could listen to “Footsteps,” a podcast about the experiences of refugees in Lancaster produced by Church World Services.

They could also watch “Living in Emergency” and “Exodus,” which is a documentary produced by Doctors Without Borders. This film documents the lives of volunteer doctors in the Doctors Without Borders program in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Exodus” is a PBS film sharing the stories of refugees fleeing their home countries and heading to Europe.

A table by the tents allowed visitors to make cards for recent refugees who have moved to Lancaster. These cards will be going to Church World Services, located in Lancaster, which helps to resettle refugees there. Sophomore Sara Holsing made cards for the refugees.

“It made me think about how lucky I am,” she said.

The exhibit was on display from Monday, Nov. 6 until Sunday, Nov. 12.

There is also a food drive currently accepting donations. “Dignity Not Charity” is asking for donations of nonperishable food items such as rice, dry beans, pasta, flour, vegetable oil, tomato paste, nuts, black tea, sugar, salt, instant coffee, cumin and other spices. These donations will be taken to Church World Services.

Junior Josie Stommel, as well as the Director of International Student Services Kristi Syrdahl worked together to create this exhibit. This was based on the Doctors Without Borders exhibit “A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City.”

Stommel hopes the “Steps to Seeking Refuge” exhibit reminds visitors of what “home” means to them and how this one word impacts every person’s identity.

“Human rights are integral, and global conflict makes issues surrounding refugees more and more pressing,” Stommel said. This is why Stommel believes this topic is important. “I am really passionate about refugees, so this installation is really important to me,” Stommel said.

Other events like this are being held to inspire conversations before the Leffler Lecture. In the Lyet Gallery of Leffler Chapel, there is an art exhibit on display until Nov. 21 titled “Peacemaking: An American and European Exchange of Art and Writings.”

To explore the meaning of peace, several artists have worked together to create this exhibit, including Andreas Kerstan from the Galerie Stuttgart in Germany, professor of art Milt Friedly, 2012 Etown graduate Samantha Redles and Bowers Writers House Director Jesse Waters. Visitors can participate afterwards by writing or drawing their reactions.

From Monday, Nov. 13 until Sunday, Nov. 19, students, faculty, staff and campus community members can donate new or gently used art supplies in a box located in the BSC. These donations will go to Church World Services in Lancaster and the Hershey Ronald McDonald House.

The dorms are also holding art activities for residents to participate in. The projects will be donated to the Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services (ECHOS). Students will hear more about their dorm’s activities from their RAs.

Photo by Emily Seiser

Monday, Nov. 13 and Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. there was an Ancestry Library Education Workshop. Both workshops were held in the McCormick classroom of the High Library. The workshops lasted one hour, and participants had the ability to search the census, military and immigration records to find out more about their families.

Book club sessions will take place surrounding this topic and the book “The World is Our Backyard.” There will be three sessions Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 3:30 p.m. Anyone who is interested should RSVP or talk to High Library Director Sarah Penniman for more information.

Before the Leffler Lecture, there will be a dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the KAV. Former refugees who are now in Lancaster will be at the dinner and available to answer any questions.

The discussion will be led by the members of the Social Work Honor Society Phi Alpha. The lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s topic is “Aiding Peace in the Face of Conflict: Ideas for Activism” and is given by Dr. Samantha Nutt. Nutt is a humanitarian who has worked with children and families in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Syria.

Holsing is looking forward to the lecture because she feels it “is important to go to something like that, especially since it is a big current issue” with the current events surrounding the DREAM Act and the large immigrant population in Lancaster.

Nutt will be holding two other events after the lecture. Friday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m., she will be speaking in Hoover 110. Any students who are interested in the health care field or biomedical research are welcome to attend.

She will also be holding a lunch discussion on the same day at 11 a.m. in the Susquehanna Room. For those interested, an RSVP is requested. All students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend.


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