For some, the Syrian refugee crisis hits home

By Nicole Taylor & Morgan VanWickler – Copy Editor & Junior Art Director

Every person on Earth has a purpose. For Associate Professor of Communication Dana Janbek, it’s working with Syrian refugees.

Her inspiration to begin researching the refugee crisis came from an article that described the living conditions in refugee camps. Janbek was so moved by this information she chose to pursue her own path of research.

Professor Dana Janbek teaches communication and works to educate the public on the Syrian refugee crisis. Photo by Michael Bueno

“When I was an undergraduate student, I was volunteering at an organization that helps resettle the refugees,” said Janbek.

The task of working with Syrian refugees requires compassion and dedication. Janbek has exhibited these traits during trips to Jordan, that she and fellow colleagues from Worcester State University and California State University pursued. “We started going to the Middle East, specifically Jordan, to meet with the Syrian refugees to learn about their living conditions and to understand the role that technology has played in their transition from Syria to Jordan,” said Janbek. The three aim to travel at least twice a year to Jordan, and contrary to popular belief, they find themselves working in urban areas, opposed to the refugee camps the American public typically thinks of.

A meeting with Syrian refugees is an eye-opening experience. “We have met with hundreds of refugees to learn about their horrific story of how and why they left Syria and why they ended up coming to Jordan,” said Janbek. Since the war in Syria began in 2011, an estimated 4.8 million people have been displaced to surrounding countries. Jordan is home to one of the greatest number of Syrian refugees, roughly 600,000, meanwhile the United States’ refugee population is around 10,000. “Unless you have lived in a war zone, it is so far beyond really anyone’s imagination and after listening to the stories, my life in comparison is extremely easy and worry free,” said Janbek.

With the information they have collected, Janbek and her colleagues are working to make a difference. “The goal is to educate myself and educate other people,” said Janbek. She has written opinion pieces for the media and facilitated interviews and presentations.

Janbek also talked about the upcoming Presidential election. “In the final debate, Donald Trump went off and said that tens of thousands of Syrian refugees that are most likely affiliated with ISIS have come to the U.S. and that cannot be further from the truth,” said Janbek. Since 9/11 there has been no one in the United States killed by refugees who turned out to be terrorists, according to Janbek. Those same refugees, who have actually witnessed terrorism themselves, are fleeing to other countries including United States to escape the horror, not to inflict it. “The political discourse continues to build fear in people’s hearts and it turns public opinion against refugees,” said Janbek.

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