When I did my Capstone presentation I was nervous, because my friends had given me situations about people messing up that were very creative and I built off of them. As I was watching everyones from the side my confidence strengthened. When I was presenting I heard the side door open so I looked, and no one was there but, there was a new member to the audience. Isabella Hove. When I had seen that she had come to my talk it filled me with joy she had come all the way from Multi-Purpose Room B. Before she had come I was trembling. She was the thing that boosted my confidence. Before her presence I was a mess but after I was about the same level as everyone else. My first slide was about a Syrian refugee that came to London because of a scholarship. As I said this Waheba, the Syrian refugee, flashed though my mind her funny personality, her determination to find a job and, her incentive to help. I realized how much I missed her.
When I got home I immediately started working on my Capstone script. First I wanted to throw in as many facts as I could but took most of them out over time to have more time to engage the audience. When I was done with the script I wanted to add slides that were the same as the script, this means that the slides are so clear that even if you couldn’t hear me talking you would still understand the meaning. I wanted the viewer to walk off with the idea that there is a huge problem going on in Syria that we, as people, need to solve and the fact that we, as a nation, last year only took in 62 Syrian refugees and we, as people, need to increase those numbers because a lot of people are already getting hurt. Finally I wanted people to know how to help because most people want to help but don’t know how so we need to spell it out for them. To perfect my script I rehearsed in front of the mirror multiple time in till it was up the set standards I had in mind.
In Mrs. Edwards 5th grade class we were all assigned to write an essay about answering our main inquiry question. Here is mine:
In Syria, the civil war is ongoing at this moment, 2019. This war will not wait for the Syrians to eat or sleep. Syrians can’t go to the grocery store or run to their friends’ houses without fear. The war started in 2011 and is going into its 8th year anniversary. More than five million people have fled the country, and virtually no one has legally gotten into the US. For my Capstone project, Syrian refugees, I came up with a main inquiry question: What is the history of the Syrian refugee crisis, how has it impacted the children involved, and what can people do to help?
The Syrian war started in 2011 with a series of anti-government protests called the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring spread across North Africa and the Middle East. A revolutionary wave of protests and conflicts broke out and collapsed many authoritarian regimes in many countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. But Bashar Al Assad, the President of Syria, refused to step down. Assad started a brutal civil war. Soon, ISIS, a militaristic, jihadist group, saw an opportunity and entered the chaos with the goal of building a totalitarian Islamic caliphate.
The reason the civil war has gone on so long in Syria is because it has larger and stronger countries supporting each of the sides. Russia and Iran are supporting Syria’s current government because Assad allows them to have military influence in the region. The US is supporting the rebellion because the current Syrian government attacks its own people with chemical weapons and has supported Hezbollah, which is an armed military group that has opposed peace efforts with Israel. Today, groups in Syria are still fighting, and many Syrians are fleeing to countries nearby such as Lebanon.
The Syrian Civil War has affected children through direct violence, the idea that violence is normal, and memories that have changed their lives. First, Syrian children have been directly affected by violence. Waheba Kabood, a Syrian refugee, said that her neighbor’s three year old cousin was in the street playing with a friend when all of a sudden a bomb came flying out of nowhere and hit his friend. The boy ran, and his friend lay in the street. After that, no child played in the street. Second, children have become accustomed to the idea that violence is normal. For example, seven year old Bana was playing with her dolls, and her friend asked casually if the doll was afraid of the bombing. Bana said that the doll was, and that the other doll liked chocolate. This girl was so scarred by the war that bombings and shootings have become as normal part of life as chocolate. Third, children have been affected through memories that have changed their life. Two Syrian refugee children, now living in Maryland, were put in a school for refugee children and were making a toy village in the sand. The girl asked the boy if there were bombings in the village, and they both started laughing and decided to put some houses on their sides representing the fact that the bombs that had been there. This is interesting because these children tried to bring back the spirit of Syria with them to Maryland, but they don’t know how to do that other than through war.
There are many ways to help the people affected by the Syrian civil war – through charities that support refugees, through contributing to businesses that refugees start, and through being informed. Jusoor is a nonprofit organization that helps Syrians inside and outside of Syria with education and economic development. The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving support to close to 1 million people in Syria by providing health care, safety centers, and job training. Save the Children allows people to sponsor children in Syria. In addition to charities, you can help Syrian refugees by contributing to their businesses or helping them get jobs. The reason helping Syrian refugees get jobs is important because immigrants have a hard time getting traditional jobs. Sometimes, they don’t know the language, and most of the time, they don’t have strong network of connections. Finally, being informed about the Syrian civil war is important because the US is playing a huge role in Syria. One way to be informed is looking at news articles about the war.
It’s easy to feel helpless because of the fact that we are humans and we can’t just snap our fingers and the war is over. Personally, that also makes me feel angry and frustrated, but we have to realize that the Syrian civil war along with multiple problems that my generation has is important, and the most important problems in the world have the hardest solutions. So, let me give you this idea to carry with you through life: if we all do what we think is possible and necessary we might be able to end wars.
I went to the Pelum Cinema House to watch a movie about resettlement for refugees involving I.R.C. there was also a Syrian refugee who came to talk about his immigration process to the US in Westchester. The only reason I was at the Pelum Cinema House was because the Students For Refugees club at Scarsdale high school. The Syrian refugee was very kind, and answered all the questions asked to him. At the end it was an open house, asking questions. Some of the questions asked were from my original interview questions. Here are some of the questions asked.
Did you encounter any Smugglers during your journey of coming to the US?
How can we, the people that want to help, help?
Was there any idea in your mind that told yourself I want to keep going?
These are only a few of the questions asked but he gave very detailed answers to these.
The movie was about Syrian refugees settling into a new home and learning how to drive, speak English, navigate the culture, and how to buy foods at a grocery store, basically learning about the necessities of living in the US.
Some of the most interesting moments in the movie were when the kids, probably just under 6, were they were so scarred by the experience of living in a war zone that they talked about how one of their dolls was scared of the bombings and the other liked chocolate. Another was when one woman said that she was really skilled in her country as a doctor but a rule that the government enforces “when a refugee is offered a job the first job that is offered the refugee has to take.” and the first job this doctor was offered was the job of a toilet cleaner. The last interesting moment that I will tell you about is when I saw the refugees learning English they looked so happy. They were having fun and they had just learned that their dreams had been crushed but they were very positive and I will always look up to that.
Later I will be interviewing Wahiba Khabood, a woman who fled the Syrian civil war and ran to the UK. I know Wahiba because she lived with my family for almost six months, not in scarsdale, but in London.She has a very interesting story from what I know of her and I am exciting to interview her because she has a backstory full of action.
I will be interviewing her on the phone and will record the whole conversation. Here are the questions I will be asking Wahiba:
- Where did you come from originally?
- Why did you have to leave your country?
- Why did you choose to come to the UK?
- Can you describe what it was like living during the civil war?
- What were your thoughts and feelings when you had to leave your family/country behind?
- Could you describe the process of coming to the UK?
- Did you ever encounter any smugglers during your journey?
- Who was the first person that you met when you immigrated?
- Did you know any English before you came?
- Where did you go when you first came to the UK?
- What were your thoughts and feeling when you crossed the border?
- What countries did you go though to get to England?
- How has the violence going on in your country had an impact on your life?
- What were the toughest challenges that you faced concerning the new language?
- When were you most scared during your journey?
Wahiba’s story is important because she’s a refugee and has been through so much trauma and hardships just to get to UK, another democracy like ours in the US.
We were told to come up with a main inquiry question. The goal of the entire Capstone project is not to put random bits of information together, but to answer the main inquiry question. Personally my main inquiry question is: What is the history of the Syrian refugee crisis, how has it impacted the children and involved what can people do to help? My first inquiry question was too political for school because I could have offended someone else with different beliefs.
We were also told to come up with 5 sub questions, sub questions are follow up questions that help to answer the main inquiry question, and I came up with 5 so here they are:
- What caused the Syrian War?
- What are the most important events of the refugee crisis?
- What are some stories of the children that have been affected by the war?
- What countries and humanitarian groups have helped refugees the most? How?
- What can people do to help refugees?
At Heathcote school in Mrs. Edwards’ fifth grade class, Mrs. Edwards is having her students do the ultimate information research project of elementary school: Capstone. Capstone is a project were the student chooses a topic that they enjoy and learns more about that topic. Her students have two months to do this project. The project includes: three web-based sources, one database source, one print source, one interview and one site visit. At the end of the project the student’s knowledge and hard work get put to use, and each student has to put together a whole Ted Talk or an Ignite Presentation with the theme of the topic that the student has studied.
Personally, I’m doing the topic of “Refugees & Homelessness” because I thankfully have had the opportunity to be in the presence of both a refugee and a homeless person, and I had very much enjoyed talking to them about their past and what they want to do with their life in the future.
Azmara was a refugee from Eritrea who lived with us for nine months while we were in London. Even though Azmara had had a difficult life, Azmara was always the happiest person in the room and always had a smile on her face for proof.
Ali was a homeless person that I met at an event Hitchcock church where we made food and delivered it to the homeless in Manhattan. Ali had a lot of opinions about the world that he wanted to change but was not able to. He told me to fight for my beliefs, and he told the boy standing next to me to become an all star basketball player. I was struck by how self-less Ali was.