Activities & Organizations News

Syrian refugees perform native music at Honors event

The event was a night filled with music and poetry from Syria, highlighting the Syrian refugee crisis. | Trey Strange/The Cougar

The Honor Commons was packed Wednesday evening as students poured over staples of Syrian desserts before they took in the poetry and hypnotic music forged by several Syrian refugees.

The University of Houston’s Middle Eastern Studies and Honors programs hosted “Sketches of the Syrian Diaspora: A Night of Music and Storytelling.” The event cast a light on artistic contributions one week after the day that marked the sixth year of the Syrian Civil War, which has displaced 11 million Syrians and created a disaster where 14.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“I think it’s really important as a Syrian-American to do the best that I can to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and play my part,” said economics junior Tala Arshouk, who attended the event.

The event, which centered on current events affecting Syrians, engulfed students in Syrian culture.

Arshouk shared a piece of poetry written by a Syrian refugee.

“As for the piece itself, I liked the way that it transitioned,” Arshouk said. “That specific poem seems kind of hard to decipher. When you first read it, you have to go back and read it a couple times. There’s a level of complexity to it that makes it really interesting to read.”

As a Syrian-American, Arshouk said her heritage makes it important for her to take part in spreading their culture and knowledge of their struggles.

Business sophomore Martin Nguyen said that although the refugee crisis is afflicting Syrians, it is troubling to him because it’s a recurring crisis that has afflicted people of many different ethnicities.

“My parents were refugees, so it attracted me to understand the plight of what my entire family had to go through,” Nguyen said.

Kimberly Meyer, a professor with the University’s Honors College who wrote about the refugee crisis in Texas Monthly, hosted the event. It was essential, Meyer said, to show that there is more to the refugees’ stories than the negativity being imposed upon them.

Meyer said she wanted to share this critical matter with students as well.

“It’s this sense that this is who we are as a nation — this is what we’re made of,” Meyer said. “So I think it’s good to remind ourselves of that and try to combat this irrational fear that’s driving these policies and that’s bubbling up among people. It comes from not knowing. Not only that, it’s also to remind us of this rich cultural heritage that these immigrants bring.”

[email protected]

Leave a Comment