Webster’s Refugee Collaboration

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Webster Geneva’s students collaborated with local refugees to promote a true reflection of the refugee crisis through media storytelling and cultural integration.

During weekly meetings from September to December (2016), refugees learned the basic structure of storytelling and discovered their own voice. Hosted by the WHA, Webster Humanitarian Association, students were able to work alongside them, using media as a platform to raise awareness.

“The refugees are some of the strongest people I know,” said Etsehiwot Negash, President of the WHA, in an interview. “They have gone through so much in their life and you always see a smile on their faces. I got a really good insight into the daily issues they face and I learned a lot about their rights.”

“Home to Home,” the exhibit showcasing refugees’ visual stories, took place on December 7. Refugees told the story of their journey, revealing where they came from and how they are currently living. With their poignant stories on display, the invited public was able to understand and connect with the refuges directly.

“What I want the refugees to get out of this is the fact that they have a voice. And that nobody needs to tell their stories for them—that they are perfectly capable, even if they don't know the language, of communicating what they have been through and where they are at now,” explained Tammy Rosso, Senior Media Faculty.

Webster Geneva students also hosted social events to better integrate refugees, ranging from cultural recipe exchanges for thanksgiving to a movie night of a popular Bollywood film from their region. “We’re trying to create empathy with these people,” said Rosso. “We’re trying to help them, let them know that they’re not alone.”

The WHA is planning another collaboration for the upcoming school semester (Spring 2017), with the aim to continue raising awareness. “The fact that people in Genthod Bellevue and in Webster now know who the refugees are, and the potential that they have shown, will hopefully improve their circumstances,” said Negash.

To get an inside look into the collaboration and the refugees’ lives, click on the Instagram page, “The Refuge In Me.”

Story: Jumanah Abualkhair
Pictures: The Refuge in Me