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Displaced From Home teaches students about the refugees crisis

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A slideshow projection of maps and data in guest speaker Dr. Peter Krause's presentation PHOTO / Adi Saligrama

A slideshow projection of maps and data in guest speaker Dr. Peter Krause's presentation PHOTO / Adi Saligrama

A slideshow projection of maps and data in guest speaker Dr. Peter Krause's presentation PHOTO / Adi Saligrama


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By Heather Lee

Silence was thick in the auditorium as the projector screen showed the remains of a ghost city. Bombed buildings stood like lifeless shells among the gray rubble that littered the Hom streets of Syria. The city of had been viciously torn apart by the war, thousands of lives stolen in the process.

 The video was a powerful part of the keynote presentation of Dr. Peter Krause, MIT political science professor, who kicked-off the Displaced from Home symposium on March 29. This event was organized by the history department to educate students about the millions of refugees and internationally displaced persons that exist in the world today.

 “It’s important to have the symposium in order to educate people who live in a very privileged society so that they can help refugees,” freshman Sadie Noone said. “We need to learn about migration because it has happened in the past, it is happening now, and it will happen in the future.”

The symposium took place over the course of three blocks, during which different speakers shared their experiences with displaced migrants. The rapt audience was mostly made up of the honors history freshmen students, the Contemporary World Issues class, and juniors and seniors who attended the school-sponsored El Salvador trips in 2015 and 2016, known as Team El Salvador. Faculty, parents, and a contingent of students from Norwood were also in attendance.

 After Krause’s powerful opening session, the symposium opened up to many different speakers with varying experiences. Each spoke about working with refugees from the countries that freshmen history students have researched in the new honors curriculum.

 Team El Salvador facilitated the discussion about El Salvador. The speaker for the discussion was Osilia Trigueros, a psychologist from East Boston who helps refugee patients cope with the trauma from their journey to the U.S.

Trigueros told the story of one of her teen patients who had fled from El Salvador and suffered from PTSD due to the violence she saw on the way. Students were greatly affected by the details given by Trigueros.

 For example, though freshmen Nikki Liu had done research on the country for six months, she said that hearing a personal story was more compelling.

 “Even though I learned a lot about El Salvador, hearing a real story really shocked me a lot,” Liu said.

 After participating in the discussion with Trigueros, Liu said that spreading awareness is important.

  “Once we know more about what’s happening in the world right now, I think it would inspire more people to go help [refugees],” she said.

 Senior Hayden Hadley, one of the students who piloted the El Salvador trip, said that many people can forget that what they see through the lens of the media is face-to-face reality for others.

 “Because there’s so much information that’s being thrown at us from the news, we can be desensitized to the problems at hand,” Hadley said. “[But] hearing about first-hand accounts and putting a face on the issue in any place, from El Salvador to Honduras, just helps us emphasize and care more. Hopefully this will spark some people into wanting to make a difference.”

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Displaced From Home teaches students about the refugees crisis