On Monday, July 10, a group of eleven gathered at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill to host a Global Co Lab Salon focused on engaging youth on helping Syrian Refugees, particularly those who are in refugee camps in Turkey.  Members of the group included volunteers involved in refugee issues, members of churches on Capitol Hill and from Arlington, and represented a broad intergenerational spectrum from age 12 through Baby Boomer.

The scope of Syrian refugee challenge is immense therefore the first discussion focused first on narrowing the issue, with a decision to engage youth on the situation in Turkey, given that the organizers had a relationship with Master Dong of Capitol Hill’s work in the region.  The gathering looked at the current “lay of the land” assessing a number of efforts that are helping refugees that they were aware of – including Home Do, NOVA Friends of Refugees, and the Capitol Hill Good Neighbor Program.  Next a brainstorm discussion took place on what could be developed in the future, what the obstacles might be, and specific next steps.

Given the many challenges that make headlines in the news, it was clear to the group that raising awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees was key.   The group considered a handful of opportunities – including those focused on storytelling through person-to-person contact, mentioning the approach of Humans of New York, which records life stories in an online format.  They felt this seemed potentially appealing given that the website enjoys a large following and generates curiosity that sustains interest.  Other methods of story sharing and communication strategies were discussed, including letter writing and direct video contact with Master Dong.  The suggestion to have church “lock-ins” for youth focused on the topic of the Syrian refugees was agreed to be a good idea worth exploring.  These could create opportunities for churches to partner on “lock-ins,” to bring Syrian families who’ve settled in this area to a “lock-in” to share their stories, to Skype with Master Dong and young refugees, etc.

A follow on salon will take place in late August to build on this initial discussion and bring in others interested in this topic.  If you are interested in engaging, contact info@globalcolab.net