Wesleyan Responds to Syrian Refugee Crisis

As part of the Wesleyan community’s response to the refugee crisis, the student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled "Art in Crisis" through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. “Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za'atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. The artwork will be sold at a silent auction with funds going back to the artists.

As part of the Wesleyan community’s response to the refugee crisis, the student-run Wesleyan Refugee Project is hosting an exhibit titled “Art in Crisis” through May 22 at the Center for the Humanities. “Art in Crisis” features work by artists within Za’atari Refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, home to over 100,000 refugees. The artwork will be sold at a silent auction with funds going back to the artists.

(By Charles Salas)

Last fall President Michael Roth took what some thought was a risk. Appalled by the Syrian refugee crisis, he issued a challenge to the Wesleyan community, asking what can we do?

On Feb. 17, the Allbritton Center hosted a panel discussion on “The Refugee Experience,” the second in a three-part series titled, “The Refugee Crisis: The Development of the Crisis and the Response in Europe.” Moderated by Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies, it featured discussion between Steve Poellot, legal director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); Mohammed Kadalah of the University of Connecticut Department of Literature, Cultures and Languages, who was recently granted asylum after fleeing Syria in 2011; and Baselieus Zeno, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and a Syrian refugee. Read more about the full series here. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

On Feb. 17, the Allbritton Center hosted a panel discussion on “The Refugee Experience,” the second in a three-part series titled, “The Refugee Crisis: The Development of the Crisis and the Response in Europe.” Moderated by Assistant Professor Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, it featured discussion between Steve Poellot, legal director at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); Mohammed Kadalah of the University of Connecticut Department of Literature, Cultures and Languages, who was recently granted asylum after fleeing Syria in 2011; and Baselieus Zeno, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and a Syrian refugee.

How would people respond? Would they say that’s not Wesleyan’s business? Ask why this crisis and not another? Demand more of Wesleyan than it could possibly do? In fact, the Wesleyan community made some good suggestions which the university has been able to act upon, doing the kinds of things it does well:

  • Hold panel discussions to increase understanding and awareness
  • Sponsor student internships with organizations assisting refugees
  • Host a refugee scholar on campus, and enroll a refugee student
  • Work with local officials to welcome refugee families to Middletown.

Read about the Wesleyan community’s remarkable response to the refugee crisis here in Wesleyan magazine online.