Charles: UO ‘No Lost Generation’ chapter seeks to spread refugee awareness
Harley Emery is a junior at the University of Oregon who decided to get involved in refugee rights when she was a freshman. Emery is majoring in international studies and geography with minors in Arabic and political science. In 2016, she co-founded a chapter of No Lost Generation at the University of Oregon. I’ve seen her at many events with the Arab Student Union and felt she would be the perfect person to discuss refugee rights with.
No Lost Generation was founded by Mercy Corps, UNICEF, Save The Children and World Vision, all non-governmental organizations. Campuses around the U.S. have started their own chapters, UO included. No Lost Generation advocates for the human rights of those affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq by giving a platform to those individuals to speak on their own behalf and increase awareness. Emery spoke about the current political climate and how it encouraged her to become an activist.
“It’s definitely shown me that action needs to happen, and we need to step up to the plate when it comes to these major social and global issues,” Emery said. It’s difficult to do this kind of activism work because there are not refugees coming into the U.S. right now. There are a lot of people here who want to get involved, but for example, here in Eugene we only have three refugee families. After they came, the various bans [were] put into place. The refugee quota was also cut in half. There just aren’t as many people to help locally.”
The refugee quota is currently the lowest it has been since 1980. Trump’s contempt for refugees, particularly those from a Muslim background, is self-evident. I asked Emery if she had a favorite memory while working at No Lost Generation. She mentioned how one afternoon while she was setting up to demonstrate refugee life on the lawn across from Lillis, it started to rain. She and fellow members all huddled inside, and for twenty minutes, she imagined what it would be like to actually live in a refugee shelter. She also mentioned the time she witnessed a reunion between members of a Syrian family.
“A few of us went to the Welcome Ceremony celebration for this one asylum seeker who had been in Eugene for two years and was separated from his wife and two children,” Emery said. When they were finally able to get into the U.S. with the help of local lawyers, they were able to be reunited. That was definitely a really special moment.”
I finally asked her if she had ever spoken to an anti-refugee individual who experienced a change of conscience.
“I’ve definitely seen some people whose minds [were more] open after what I told them,” she said. “I talk about the refugee resettlement process and all the screening that refugees go through. I’ve seen a spark of conscience in some people. They start to ask questions that are a little more humanizing. It is a matter of empathy and compassion … and being willing to bring people in who contribute to society. People need to be willing to look past the fake and misleading news that is telling them otherwise.”
For those who are interested, it is imperative to get involved right now before more refugees are deprived of awareness of their condition. Meetings are on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the EMU, room 140. If you want more information:
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