Wilmington College will delve into aspects of the immigration and refugee issues when it holds the 27th annual Westheimer Peace Symposium with the theme “Welcoming the Other” in an all-day event Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Activist Jim Keady (#WagingPeace) will present the keynote address, “The Muslim Refugee Crisis,” at the 7 p.m. program in Heiland Theatre, which will open with The World House Choir from Yellow Springs performing several pieces.
Keady, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey, believes that in the same way the military gears up and wages war, so must “social justice warriors gear up and wage peace,” said Dr. Tanya Maus, chair of the WPS Committee.
He will share his experience of going to Greece to help with the Syrian and Muslim refugee crisis.
“In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Keady observed with great concern as the xenophobic/Islamophobic rhetoric ratcheted up to a fever pitch,” Maus said. “He watched as average citizens and presidential candidates raged about the evils of Islam and their belief that all Muslims want to kill Americans.”
When the rhetoric pivoted hard toward Muslim refugees and they were suddenly being depicted as the enemy, Keady felt compelled to offer his assistance in Greece, Maus added, noting that, “Keady challenges each of us to search for the humanity in those we fear and perceive as the ‘other.’”
Keady is director of Educating for Justice, an organization he founded in 2001 that “teaches social justice” while offering resources and analysis in “advocating for creating a world that is more just and peaceful.” The organization’s motto is “Educate, Organize, Act.”
He is well known for sharing his story of living with Nike’s factory workers and his decade-long effort to end, what many believe are, sweatshop abuses in the Asian countries where the popular brand’s athletic apparel is manufactured.
Also during the day, Passages, a United Nations refugee awareness-raising game, will be played at Williams Stadium from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion, “Welcoming the Other with Catholic Social Services,” at 1 p.m. in the McCoy Room of Kelly Center. The panel will feature Michael Murphy, program manager of CSS’s refugee resettlement program, with Mitra Azad and Ali Adoumharoun.
Later in the afternoon, “Stories of Greek Refugee Camps through the Arts,” featuring ceramicist Beth Holyoke, will be held at 3:15 p.m. in Room 119 of Boyd Cultural Arts Center. She and her family members will share stories of working with young adults through the arts earlier this year at refugee camps in northern Greece and the island of Lesbos.
This year’s Westheimer Peace Symposium also features additional programming prior to the day of the symposium.
Passages, the refugee awareness game, will first be held Oct. 7, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., at Williams Stadium, followed on Oct. 9 with the program, “Refugees in the United States: an Interfaith Trialogue,” at 7:30 p.m. in the McCoy Room. Trialogue is a Cincinnati-based organization that promotes interfaith and cultural understanding.
Trialogue will be joined by WC senior agriculture major Mathew Hursey, who will share his experience of working the Friends Committee on National Legislation in regard to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and other immigration issues. The event will be preceded by the spoken word poetry of Salma Albezreh from Vandalia, Ohio.
Also, students watched the film “The Good Lie” in mid-September as part of WC’s Movies on the Mall and a group of students, faculty and staff will visit the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and dine at a Middle Eastern restaurant.
All campus programs and activities associated with the Westheimer Peace Symposium are free of charge.
Submitted by Randy Sarvis, director of public relations, Wilmington College.