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Hey readers!  My junior year continues to surprise me with novel opportunities to experience cultures foreign to my own.  Did you know there are refugee families living in the western suburbs of Chicago?  Are you aware of the controversy over mosque-communities in both towns and cities throughout the U.S.?  Continue reading to find out-

Brent and other DU students pose with a Burmese family.Brent and other DU students pose with a Burmese family.

Exodus World Services is an inspirational organization that reaches out to families in foreign countries that are experiencing discrimination and even persecution because of their religion, ethnicity, and marginalized position in society.  With the help of Exodus, each week families make their way from refugee camps and slums to airports where they are then flown to the United States.  They are provided housing normally in areas where people of their same country of origin are located.

For the same course mentioned in my last post, in which I have spent time with ELS students, my peers and I recently participated in a Welcome to America! Pack program event.  Over the course of this spring semester we collected household supplies to provide for a family of eight from Burma (Also known as Myanmar, but this term has a negative connotation for refugees).  On the day we visited the family’s apartment in Wheaton, IL, to drop off the supplies, they had arrived earlier that same day.  Even after their long flight from Burma they still had the energy and courage to spend time with us.  We helped them put away kitchen items, prepare bedrooms, and even showed them how to dispense plastic wrap from its container (The hardest part is finding which end to open).  The family knew only broken English, but with the help of the Exodus contact person we were able to hold a conversation about why they chose to leave Burma and what their hopes are as Burmese-Americans.  Since I come from the suburb of Carol Stream, during this coming summer I hope to participate in the New Neighbor Program, when I would meet with the family once a week for three months.

Time to change paths, but follow the same general direction-

Brent with Jamil KhouryBrent with Jamil Khoury

Jamil Khoury, artistic director and cofounder of the theatre production company Silk Road Rising, is a bold playwright with the tools to break into the public discourse of Islamophobia affecting American Culture.  Through Silk Road Rising he is directing the Mosque Alert project.  Khoury recently came to campus to give a presentation about his work thus far on the project.  He spoke about his inspiration for the production and process involved in its creation.  He then showed a video called Meet Mosque Alert, which presents the characters and introduces the various conflicts that occur between two families: a young Muslim couple and a Caucasian Christian family of four.  A second video titled The Imam and the Homosexual was shown, which highlights the normally unspoken comparisons and contrasts between Muslim and LGBTQ discrimination.  As a Catholic institution working toward ‘the creation of a more just and humane world,’ students should expect to engage in dialogue over liberties and prejudices concerning both religion and sexual orientation.

Illinois is metaphorically ablaze with controversy over the provision of citizenship to refugees and undocumented immigrants alike. During this same period, society is in a state of unrest over non-Christian faiths and gender norms.  Dominican is an active community in search of the Truth, for the sake of love and justice, in the same sort of manner as of St. Dominic de Guzman during his own time.

Tags: 
Burma, Exodus World Services, Mosque Alert project, Myanmar, refugee families, Silk Road Rising