Chalk-Up

At Middlebury College, and especially at Go/Refuge, we take diversity and multiculturalism very seriously. Though our main focus right now is on Syrian refugees, we know that refugees can come from all over the world and speak all languages. So, at the beginning of the new fall semester, we decided to welcome the new freshman, who also come from all over the world, by writing welcoming messages in as many languages as we could. On the walkway from Davis Library to Mead Chapel, an uphill path that all students here walk nearly every day, and also one of the most beautiful and powerful locations on campus, we wrote the message "Refugees Welcome" in 20 different languages for the whole campus to see:

 

Spanish, Traditional Chinese, and Serbian.

Spanish, Traditional Chinese, and Serbian.

French, Japanese, and Amharic.

French, Japanese, and Amharic.

Arabic (upside-down).

Arabic (upside-down).

Italian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and Lao.

Italian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and Lao.

In addition to the multilingual "Refugees Welcome" messages on the Mead Chapel walkway, we wrote other moving messages about refugeeism all over campus, many of which are quotes from London-based Somali poet Warsan Shire:

We hope our messages will inspire the Middlebury community to join us in taking action to help Syrian refugees.

Refugee Diaries

Dear members and supporters of Go/Refuge,

The 2015-16 school year, a.k.a. the inaugural year of Go/Refuge, has come to an end, and this summer we are hard at work preparing for all of the exciting events we have planned for the upcoming year. But for now, we would like to take a moment to reflect on one of the major highlights of our founding year: Refugee Diaries. This event, co-hosted by Amnesty International, was a fascinating and moving series of speeches from members of the Middlebury community discussing their experiences with refugeeism. In case you missed the event or want to refresh your memory, here is a list of the speakers along with summaries of what they talked about, and links to videos of their speeches on our Youtube channel.

To kick off the event, Michael Kraus, Frederick C. Dirks professor of political science at the college, spoke about his experience as a refugee fleeing Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Next, Dzavid Mahmulji, a staff member at the college, told his story as a refugee from Bosnia. After that, we had a short break from hearing speeches to enjoy a moving musical performance from Armel Nibasumba '16 and Tatsatom Gonçalves '19.

Next, the speakers recommenced with Meron Benti '19, who related her experience as a light-skinned Ethiopian living in Italy and then studying in the United States.

After that, Allegra Molkenthin '19.5, a member of Amnesty International, read aloud a statement on behalf of Mari Cordes, a resident of the town of Middlebury who provided medical care to Syrian refugees in Lesbos, Greece.

Finally, Farid Noori '18 discussed how his family sought asylum from the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then his experience traveling to the United States.

We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to hear such powerful stories from fellow members of our college community. We're also thankful to Amnesty International, the Gamut Room, Fiasco!, and everyone else who helped to make this event a resounding success. Look for more Go/Refuge events in the coming school year, and make sure to sign up for our mailing list so we can keep you updated!