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About the Harvard_Portal

The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School has partnered with the American Academy of Religion and Boston College to bring a Shared_Studios Portal to the Boston area during the month of November.  The Portal will be available at Harvard Divinity School from Saturday, November 4th through Thursday, November 9th.  

The world is currently facing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, including 23 million refugees. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the world’s largest group of refugees are the five million Syrians who have been forced out of their country since the civil war began in 2011; the two largest groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in Syria (6.6 million) and Iraq (3.2 million). 

At their best, wealthy Western countries struggle to generate the political will to accept substantial numbers of refugees from developing countries, in part because of a natural difficulty in visualizing and responding to distant or alien need. At their worst, they refuse to accept more than token numbers of refugees beyond what is required by international law, or they politicize refugees as threats to national security, cultural identity, or national economy. Although education about relevant facts and figures is important, there is no substitute for a personal encounter to humanize a distant other, and thus reframe our understanding of a global crisis. 

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This short video features the Mohammad family in Erbil, Iraq. This family has been displaced by fighting and now lives in the Harsham Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Erbil.

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Schedule

Saturday, November 4

Erbil, Iraq
9:00am - 11:00am

Art, Music, Poetry exchange - come share your creative expressions or expressions that inspire you with friends around the world

Berlin, Germany (Syrian Refugees)
11:30am - 1:30pm
Art, Music, Poetry exchange - come share your creative expressions or expressions that inspire you with friends around the world

Sunday, November 5

Gaza City, Palestine
9:00am - 11:00am (Note that 10:20am - 11:00am is reserved for the Middle East Refugee Service Initiative)

Monday, November 6

Amman, Jordan
Reserved for high school students from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Tuesday, November 7

Erbil, Iraq
9:00am - 10:30am
Reserved: Responding to Poetry

11:00-1:00 p.m. - Berlin, Germany
Dialogues: Fleeing Syria for Germany

Wednesday, November 8

Erbil, Iraq
9:00am - 11:00am
(Note that 9:00-10:00am is reserved for an event: Improving Distance Education for Refugees)

Amman, Jordan
11:30am - 1:30pm
Share stories of elders in your life who have inspired you

Thursday, November 9

Erbil, Iraq
9:00am - 11:00am
Art, Music, Poetry exchange - come share your creative expressions or expressions that inspire you with friends around the world

Other Related Events

Journeys: Bridging the Us/Them Divide in the Global Refugee Crisis
Wednesday, November 1, 5:15-6:30pm
Sperry Room, Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Avenue Cambridge

Featured speakers:

  • Anita Häusermann Fábos: Associate Professor of International Development and Social Change, Clark University
  • Cheryl Hamilton: Director, International Institute of New England's Lowell office and creator of the "Suitcase Stories" series
  • U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo: Performance artist and author
  • Ziad Reslan: Graduate Student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and co-coordinator of the Middle East Refugee Service Initiative