Journey to Europe: Perspectives on the Refugee Crisis

The Journey to Europe: Perspectives on the refugee crisis truly changed my perspective and touched my heart. The event began with a screening of the documentary 4.1 miles. The film shows the refugee crisis firsthand from the perspective of Greek civilians who have taken it upon themselves to go to sea every hour in order to save an influx of 200 refugees from drowning and ultimately death. The film was heartbreaking as you see people struggling for their lives, families being torn apart, and children dying. Not everyone is able to be saved though the rescuers put forth their best, and it’s devastating to watch these people in pure agony as they desperately try to flee from the war. 4.1 Miles truly humanized the refugee crisis for me. While I’ve heard about it countless times on the news and see the disturbing images online, my privileged life and living within the “American bubble” has prevented me from giving it much thought. After viewing this, my perspective changed. I began to realize how helpless these people are and it angered me that a country with as many resources as the U.S. is not providing much support. Following the screening, Dr. Smith, Dr. Raymond, and graduate student Stefanie Neumeier discussed their perspectives on the crisis. Dr. Smith spoke on how it is the European Union’s humanitarian and moral obligation to help refugees, just as it ours as citizens. He asserted that the uprising populist movement plays on fear and portrays refugees as dangerous. In reality, they are essentially harmless and facing some on the worst situations in the world and in need of aid. Dr. Raymond discussed how the top hosts of refugees are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, and Jordan, some of the world’s poorest countries that do not have the resources to take on the mass amounts of refugees. Dr. Raymond stated that the burden is not being shared equally. I find this very unfair and saddening. Next, Stefanie Neumeier discussed the false perceptions of refugees. In Germany, refugees are no more criminal than Germans, and the real threat comes from hate crimes against the refugees by members of the far right. I learned so much from this event and since it has been placed upon my heart to help the refugee crisis in any way I can. I’m currently looking into going to Germany to hopefully work or volunteer within a refugee camp. I hope to attend more events like this and am thankful for my new perspective.


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