Hope—a small word for something that unites us all. Having hope is not always an easy feat, but it is one thing that makes the journey for Syrian refugees easier.
Public Health Without Borders (PHWB) hosted a benefit concert supporting Syrian refugees March 31 in the Nyumburu Multipurpose Room.
The concert was free, but donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees were accepted throughout the night.
Campus a cappella groups Kol Sasson, Ethnobeat and Pandemonium, as well as dance group Afrochique, each took the stage to foster hope and unity among nations and refugees.
In between performances, members of PHWB read Humans of New York narratives from Syrian refugees. Their testimonies were accompanied by their photographs projected on the screen.
During the event, PHWB Vice President Mitch Rock also delivered a short speech about the Paris attacks and the power of fear. He said people cannot let refugees be forgotten and they cannot allow “fear to turn into blind hatred.”
Hope is what unites us, Rock said, and the testimonies show we are similar to refugees because we share hope.
As the audience listened silently to each story, a few attendees teared up.
Christina Memmott, a senior public health science major, was one of them. She said the stories were necessary to remind everyone refugees are human too.
“At first the refugee crisis was a really big deal, but now we don’t think about it as much. [These testimonies] just show they’re still out there and they’re still here, even if they’re not in the media as much,” said Memmott.
Danny Mackey, a senior civil engineering major and member of Pandemonium, said the concert was a good balance of having fun and being reminded of the seriousness of the refugee crisis.
“It was unique because we don’t usually perform for a cause like this, so that was cool,” Mackey said. “It was definitely exciting to be part of something that was raising attention for a good cause.”
Mackey said he was particularly touched by the last testimony of a Syrian inventor who wants to use his inventions to improve the world.
“Just because they’ve been through traumatic events and they’re from a war-torn country doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer,” Mackey said. “There’s a vast pool of knowledge and ability there that we can tap into, and if we really help them, they can contribute in large ways.”
Sophomore public health science major Tanjila Rahman, who’s also a member of PHWB, said she was pleased with how the event turned out.
“I’m really glad people came out to support Syrian refugees. It was great to have these campus organizations come out and do the concert for us.”
Rahman also said she found the testimonials inspiring and encouraged other students to attend similar events.
“As students, we are so busy with our lives, with our exams and homework,” Rahman said. “If you could just take a little time out of your day to show support and to learn more about the issues around your world, that makes your college experience. College is all about knowing and understanding the world around you, and this event was a way to help you with that.”
Featured Photo Credit: Members of PandemoniUM, a co-ed a cappella group on campus, performed three songs. They sang American Boy, by Estelle and Kanye West, and then sang Rollercoaster by Bleachers, and finished with Cake By the Ocean, a song from Grease. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Rosie Kean is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.