The Middle East today: personal testimonies

A lecture and photo exhibition hosted by Studium Generale (SG) is bringing personal stories and images from daily life and challenges as well as aspiration of individuals who have lived and worked in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Abdel-Qader Zalkha (23), a former law student and Syrian national now living in Utrecht, shared his experience of living in the besieged city of Aleppo during the first lecture of this 3-part series entitled The Syrian Conflict: An eyewitness account. Zalkha’s lecture was accompanied by an exhibition of Fouad Hallak’s photos of the daily lives of Syrians in rebel held territory. The exhibition will be on display until December 1, 2016 in the TU Aula foyer.

As Klaas Pieter van der Tempel, SG Programme Coordinator explained, “…the hope is to bridge the gap that exists between common perceptions about events and prevailing cultural norms in the Middle East and the reality of people who have lived there. Images and narratives on war, disaster and terrorism dominate in the mainstream news coverage on the Middle East. These personal accounts of resistance, hope and human connections will help to convey more of the reality of living in the Middle East than we get from the news.”

The second lecture will take place on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 and features civil engineering student, Marijke Panis, who spent Summer 2016 volunteering at a refugee camp in Lebanon. Panis’ talk highlights the contradictions in Lebanese society and impressions from life in a refugee camp. As a country of six million residents, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita globally – 1.5 million people. This lecture reflects on the country’s riches, refugees, religions, armies and trash.

This lecture series and the accompanying photo exhibitions challenge the university community to feel the internal discord inherent in longing for a home that is no longer attainable while searching for a new place to call home where one can hopefully flourish again in relative peace and security. The audience is invited to reflect on the contrasts between their own circumstances and the nature of circumstances under which they would be prepared to flee and seek refuge in a new country.

More details about this lecture series is available on Studium Generale’s website.

Editor Redactie

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