Last Tuesday, we finished watching the movie God Grew Tired Of Us and it was SO good. Not only was it a great documentary but also a brilliant way to raise awareness about what’s going on in Sudan. I encourage everyone to watch if you have not yet.
Our discussion following the film included a focus on what Service Learning is all about and how we can give back to the Refugees we are visiting, for they are giving us an amazing experience by telling their stories. But a conclusion to this was to do just that, sincerely listen to their stories.
In the first couple of weeks of classes we read, discussed and watched what Refugees and survivors of atrocities go through. I have incredible respect for these people, for they haven’t given up. But I can never empathize through their actual experience. I suppose this could discourage me from “helping” them out, perhaps the differences in our privileges would offend them if I claimed to be “helping” them. But helping someone does not always necessarily put you on a pedestal above others. God Grew Tired of Us showed such culture clashes between Sudanese and Americans. Every culture values different things and in the film the refuges in America were so confused with our concept of Christmas. They didn’t understand why a majority of people celebrated Santa Claus more than the Birth of Jesus Christ.
Reminding myself that every culture has different ideals took me down from that pedestal. I am in no position to tell anyone that I’m better than “them”. (A term that immediately separates people by level)
Everyone was given different resources in life and its up to them to use them at their best.
Removing such differences between us, I believe that helping is not condescending. It can be seen in a far more positive outlook. As much as the refugees in America have been through, they are now in a safer place and are surrounded by a world of opportunity. They are given the opportunity to share their stories and spread the word because everyone’s story deserves to be heard.
By listening to their stories, my classmates and I can help share them with everyone. People need to know what’s going on in the world. That is the start of a revolution or a call for change. I was baffled by how big of an impact SOPA Internet protesters had on the government. It was inspiring how powerful communication can be.
After last class, I had thousands of thoughts rushing through my head so I immediately called my cousin Dawit, who is majoring in International Development at George Washington University. We spent thirty minutes discussing all aspects of Refugee Camps and USAID in Africa. After our conversation I thought about how one day, Dawit just might be the Ambassador of a country and how all of the thought-provoking conversations he has had with everyone (including the one we had) could make such an impact on his help in the world. The possibilities out there!!
*such impacts are not just limited to Dawit, everyone has the opportunity!