Picturing Syria

  1. What do you picture when you think of Syria?

This question was posed to us by Ahmad, a Syrian man living in Darmstadt we’d met and had dinner with a few nights ago. He’d asked because he was curious how much Americans truly know about his home country, especially since he himself had heard so much misinformation about it. It was said that some were even surprised to learn that people in Syria had smart phones, likely assuming that the country was some sort of primitive wasteland.

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Not A Crisis, But A Grand Opportunity

Since being in Germany and immersing myself into this new culture, I’ve realized how fortunate I am that almost everyone I’ve encountered here speaks English. Although, the language barrier has prompted some problems when reading menus, understanding the tram and bus routes, figuring out how to run the dishwasher, and other basic tasks. Even so, I haven’t felt completely helpless by any means. Aside from a little frustration and a few wrong turns, it’s all been manageable. Continue reading “Not A Crisis, But A Grand Opportunity”

A Note to My 15-Year-Old Self

This trip is not my first encounter with a group of people who have declared refuge. I’d like to take you back seven years ago, to the summer before I entered my sophomore year of high school.

For six years growing up, every summer, I would go for a week-long mission trip that would place me somewhere in the Midwest. It would be myself and some of my closest friends from either the middle school or high school level that belonged to the church I attended. Continue reading “A Note to My 15-Year-Old Self”

Fear of the Unknown

Fear guides many of our decisions. When we don’t handle our fear, it can cripple us. This kind of fear entraps us, we are not able to move in any direction. In these situations, the individual with the fear is hurt by their fear. Unfortunately, sometimes being crippled by fear hurts who or what the fear is directed at more than the person with the fear. One common instance of this today is Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia magnifies all other fears.” -Ahmad

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Reflections from Outside the Bubble

I am a creature of habit and rarely venture outside of my bubble. For most of my life I’ve lived in comfortable ignorance of everything going on outside of my own little world, not thinking very hard about things that didn’t effect me directly. If I’m being honest, living this way made me happy. Keeping up with the news is upsetting; something bad is always happening somewhere, and I will be the first to admit that it is way easier to just not pay attention to it.

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We Don’t Know What We’re Not Told

Prior to setting off on this German endeavor to document the refugee resettlement, I received an array of reactions. Most of which consisted of immediate surprise, skepticism, and curiosity. Most people were initially shocked that a young, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, bubbly 22-year-old female was interested in contributing to such a momentous and complex topic – and even more – that I was interested in working with actual refugees.

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A Unique Reality

Finding peace after struggle leads one down a unique path. For myself, I faced a year of many personal hardships. Over time, I decided I could no longer continue that way of living. With that conclusion, I had no choice but to let go of them and start anew. Accept that I am human, forgive myself, turn the page, and begin again.

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Breaking Barriers

As we’re encroaching on our first week in Germany, a great deal of time has been spent reflecting on our experiences thus far.

Darmstadt is a city full of beauty. Whether it is the different languages dancing around us, fresh pastries available daily for breakfast, market shopping for fresh food, or the excitement of being in a new country.  Although, we do face challenges on a day-to-day basis.

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The Digital Refuge/e Experience

The experience is, at its core, driven by a simple question:

How are people experiencing refugee resettlement in Germany?

We are a small team of Americans spending a month in Darmstadt, Germany. We are being graciously hosted by Hochschule Darmstadt, partnering with valued colleagues in the International Office, Social Work: Migration & Globalization, Online Communication, and Online Journalism. While we are here, we are seeking the humanity of this humanitarian crisis, trying to understand as many perspectives as possible on the ongoing resettlement of refugees throughout Germany and the EU.
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