Screening of ‘Salam Neighbor’ raises funds for resettled Syrian refugees
Nearly 80,000 displaced Syrians live inside Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp. American filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci would like you to meet them.
Temple and Ingrasci spent a month living alongside families in the camp to provide viewers with a look into this pressing humanitarian crisis. Their award-winning documentary, Salam Neighbor, was screened at Connecticut College at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, in Cummings Arts Center’s Evans Hall.
“It’s hard to get a true sense of the refugee crisis when you just hear numbers—numbers don’t help us understand what being in this situation means to a human life,” said Professor of Government and International Relations Tristan Borer.
“This film introduces viewers to these families and in the process dispels many common myths about refugees. It humanizes them, shows the wherewithal they have and shows how they are incredible contributors to society.”
Borer chairs the College’s recently established Committee on Refugee Relief and Education, which sponsored the screening along with Start Fresh, a New London area refugee settlement team associated with New Haven-based Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services.
More than 350 people, including faculty, staff, students and members of the community, attended the event, which raised nearly $1,800. All proceeds will directly support several Syrian refugee families that have resettled in the New London area with the help of Start Fresh.
“These families face every challenge one can imagine after being completely uprooted because of conflict,” Borer said.
“They have to find jobs, learn a new language, attend new schools—even things like finding transportation or navigating an American grocery story can be challenging.”
Following the screening, Borer facilitated a Q&A with Jamila Ezbidi '19, the Student Government Association chair of equity and inclusion and president of the International Student Association; Cheryl Molina, a representative of Fresh Start; and Will Kneerim, director of employment and education services at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.
Waed Athamneh, an assistant professor of Arabic studies who is also a member of the Committee on Refugee Relief and Education, visited the Za’atari camp in 2015 to conduct field research for an upcoming book project, Syrian Women Refugees: Voices from the Camp.
"I interviewed women who are trying to rebuild their lives and protect their children despite the lack of resources," she said. "These women welcomed me to their caravans; shared their stories, bread and tea with me; and treated me like family. The generosity and love I experienced in the al-Zaatari camp every time I visited are unmatched."