Project RISE: Big Changes Start SmallBy Guest
Submitted by Project RISE, a Canton High School Community Problem Solving Team
“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity,” were the wise words of the highly revered Pope Francis. These words hold true to the fact that refugees should not be regarded with indifference; these words imply that refugees are humans too, and deserve the rights and liberties of a peaceful life, just like you and me. This seems like a bold implication to many because after all, can we really trust individuals who are seemingly different from us in their culture and prayer?
Media portrayal and President Trump’s recent executive order banning immigration from the countries of Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Libya, and Yemen substantially impacted the refugee crisis, considering that there are large masses of refugees in these regions threatened by political turmoil and searching for a place to resettle. Under the original wording of the president’s executive order, the relocation of these refugees to the United States of America would not be possible. The stated purpose for such an order was that it “plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.” However, according to the Migration Policy Institute, “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001, and in those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities.” Therefore, the idea that refugees are inherently dangerous is not based on well founded factual evidence, although media portrayal makes it seem so.
The belief of Project RISE, a team of Canton High School students working to integrate refugees into American society and education, is that refugees do have a place in this country, just like any other immigrant who has gone through an incredibly difficult and thorough process to enter the United States. Refugees, however, are of greater priority because they are fleeing from areas of constant danger. Not only do refugees have a place in the United States, but they can also contribute to the growth of our economy and bring cultural advancement to the community once they are integrated into society.
Project RISE (Refugee Integration in Society and Education) is working to expedite the process of integration by spreading awareness in not only the Canton community, but other communities as well. For example, our recent article published in the Boston Globe spreads our ideology across a large community. We are also meeting with refugee families throughout Massachusetts to provide them with resources that surpass their basic needs, such as art supplies and science fair materials. We have been conducting donation drives for their benefit, spreading awareness through several forms of social media, and most significantly, communicating with refugee families to help them feel more comfortable in their communities and in the United States as a whole.
Additionally, we have been emphasizing the belief that we are all equal. That is why we selected a day for each refugee family to teach us their native language. We put great significance on the fact that it is not always the refugees that are on the receiving end. We all have great knowledge, experiences, and customs that we can share to destroy the barriers of superiority and inferiority. Significant changes always start small, and Project RISE is working to make small changes in the Canton community to show that we stand united.
One of the difficulties refugees encounter upon arrival to the States is, not surprisingly, money. They face an inability to find jobs to sustain themselves. Refugees who had years of education and held high-status jobs in their native countries are now forced to work for any job they can find. We found engineers trying to find plowing jobs and doctors trying to find jobs in coffee shops, all because their certifications are no longer valid in the United States. Refugee children have a difficult time adjusting to the new schooling standards. On top of having to adjust to that, they have to deal with learning a new language and integrating with a new culture.
There can be a difference of opinion on whether to allow refugees into the country or how many of them we can allow. But once they are in our country, our belief is that we have to try to provide them with as much relief and as many resources as possible to match those that are available to a common American family. Recently, Project RISE met with a family to give them multiple boxes of clothes, school supplies and other items, when the family commented that 10 years ago they used to help others similarly in their own country. They admitted that 10 years ago, they never envisioned that they would be in another country without resources and money and be put in the position of needing charity.
At the end of the day, “Our neighbors are our neighbors no matter how they pray, and when your neighbor and their family and their children are in danger, you always open not only your door to them, but also your heart,” as said by an anonymous source on social media. It is easy to turn a blind eye to what is happening in other parts of the world; the executive order’s intentions are ignorant to the war, death, and unjust persecution upon innocent individuals. Children, the most innocent and promising of us all, are some of the most affected by this order. It is easy for us to only focus on our own lives and ignore the heartbreaking reality of the refugee crisis, but being human means acting with our hearts when regarding the loss of millions of lives.
If you have interest in supporting Project RISE, you can find us on Twitter @projectRISE2016, on Facebook @projectRISE2016, and you can also donate to our GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/project-rise. All funds raised will be used to support refugee families directly to bring them personalized materials that are beyond the basic needs that charitable organizations have provided to them. Also, check out our website at email@example.com for more information.
The members of Project RISE are Anvitha Addanki, Leianna Brune, Srimayi Chaturvedula, Eli Julier-Albert, Michael Mazzola, Ashna Patel, Sinead Qiu, Elizabeth Seto, and James Vo.
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