There seems a disconnect between who we are and what we are studying. We immerse ourselves into the topic by reading endless stories on what has happened to the refugees, on their survival tactics, on their long walks through unknown terrain to escape the brutality around them and get to safety. We have studied different genocides, gaining knowledge on the topic with each story read and fact learned. However, ‘to hear it lived’ will be something different, a live story told is more captivating than any word printed onto paper and read from our eyes as we sit in the warmth of our safe environment. Next week is our time, when the stories we have read and evaluated from our own white privileged minds will be put into the back of our head, as we open ourselves up for the real time stories to be heard.
Communication scholars always stress that face-to-face interaction is the most powerful means of communicating. This fact will become more evident as we place ourselves into the lives of the refugees, interacting with them, face-to-face, in the refugee camp. All semester, we have worked towards this, preparing ourselves mentally for what is to come. Like training for a marathon, we have worked our brains up to this point, filling it with knowledge not know before entering that Harrison room, where the chairs are comfy, and the company we keep is special to us. Our brain muscles have been worked and prepared for this time, where we begin our journey, and begin our week working with the lost boys. While usually for trips I stress over what to pack, this seems the farthest thing from my mind. All I can think about packing is my knowledge thus far gained from this class. Documents on Sudan will fill my backpack before we depart from the airport, so that I can review things on the plane before interacting with the lost boys. This class has been a study session for the last eight weeks, and it seems that we are now entering the big exam, the face-to-face interaction with the boys. Like most exams bring, the nerves begin to flow through by body, but with these nerves comes excitement, eagerness & the thrill of the trip.
When I first saw this class on ecampus, and it’s description, the thrill and enthusiasm pulsated through my body, as I began furiously typing an email to Aaron on my iPhone, saying ‘how, how, how can I get into this class???’, that ‘I wanted in, needed in!’ Just the other day, a girl asked my why I would want to take a class like this– that if I needed any SCOM300 level course to finish my SCOM major, why take such a numbing course as genocide? My answer…why not? Have we not been shielded enough from the outside world to the point that we lose consciousness of what is going on around us? Why not dig deep and open ourselves up to the endless privileges we ourselves hold here at JMU by learning about what privileges others lack? And if by doing so, if a difference can be made, then we need to do what JMU has stressed to us for these past four years…we need to be the change.
Pack light….for I feel our suitcases will be heavy after this experience.