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KU Conversations 9- Syrian Refugee Crisis

By: Courtney Aaron

Good morning and welcome to KU Conversations 9. Today we will be delving into the Syrian refugee crisis. As a result of the Syrian Civil War, many citizens from Syria have fled their country by any means possible, creating what you’ve probably heard as the refugee crisis. You may have also noticed that this issue has also consistently been mentioned in the media in addition to the Syrian Civil War and multiple political related topics (like the elections). We’ve found a short video from factcheck.org explaining whether or not the major media accusations about the handling Syrian refugees and the Syrian refugees themselves were in fact true or false. For example, the real number of refugees the Obama administration plans to take in is not nearly as much as a lot of people are assuming.

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Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border for displaced people of the Syrian Civil War. Photo by: Henry Ridgwell from Voice of America News

The refugee crisis is an increasingly complicated and difficult issue. It’s not just about escaping a country and finding somewhere else to live. There are so many important aspects involved to think about including:  refugees initial escape from the country, finding a willing country to escape to, gaining access to that country (legally or illegally), locating a refugee camp or safe place to stay in, getting the necessary resources needed to survive, and many other important ideas to consider. These processes also require the involvement of many people and groups including the refugees themselves, the governments and citizens of the countries they are fleeing to, and the humanitarian organizations (and/or organizations and group who do similar work) that are assisting refugees. Each level of this process has its own difficulties and struggles. For starters escaping Syria and finding somewhere else to go is a harrowing experience that is both deadly and heartbreaking all at once, no matter how far or short of a distance the refugees need to travel. Some refugee camps are just outside the border of Syria, like the camp Za’atari. We have a photo essay from Academic Search Complete detailing the life within Za’atari and how refugees live within the camp. We also have another photo essay from Time detailing a longer journey of Syrian refugees (as well as Afghani refugees and other migrants) into Europe. This article focuses on the journey itself and important statistics describing how many refugees and migrants risk everything during their travels.

There is also the concern for risk of diseases and illnesses while traveling with very few medical resources and care. We have an article by PLoS Pathogens discussing the more common types of illnesses and diseases that spread among refugees, as well as the risk factors involved with susceptibility. Even the citizens still within Syria are at high risk of these diseases and illnesses due to the civil war’s effects on Syria’s immunization programs and health care access.  In addition to travel issues and illnesses, there’s also the problem of receiving aid for when the refugees finally find refuge within another country. There needs to be plans on how to acquire health care, food, alternative housing, and many other aspects needed for living. We have an article from Public Health Reviews detailing a few of the issues Europe is facing in terms of planning and response to the increase of refugees.

You may be wondering if there is some kind of plan to settle refugees and manage all the things they would require after they’re settled. There are multiple plans made by both the governments of the countries and also the UN and other similar organizations. It is important to remember that there is a difference between refugees and immigrants. This CNN article details and provides examples about how the process of refugees being handled by a country are different than how immigrants are handled.  Here is an article detailing the U.S.’s plan for refugees entering the country. It discusses the process on how to admit refugees into the country including what the Department of State is going to do to coordinate and manage the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program. There is also information on how many refugees the U.S is planning to accept (10,000 during the fiscal year of 2016), and how Homeland Security will be involved with the process. One of the major factors of these plans people seem to worry about are the screening plans. The refugee screening process goes through multiple organizations and departments including the FBI, the Consular Lookout and Support System, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) Antonio Guterres briefing international media in Geneva. Photo by: Eric Bridiers

There is also a plan for refugee resettlement and placement. We also did find a plan that involves governments, UN agencies, multiple non-governmental organizations, and over 200 humanitarian/development agencies called the Regional Refugees and Resilience Plan 2015-2016.

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Administrator of the UN at the Ratana celebrations in 2008. Photo by: Sugnaguy

This plan was created to help coordinate multiple plans and ideas for humanitarian needs, refugee protection, and long-term socio-economic impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis on other countries. This plan also includes extensive statistics on important information like how many refugees are in which countries, funding requirements of each country, agency requirements of each country, and many others. It is both a plan and an extensive progress report. The UNCHR (Office of the high Commissioner for refugees) and the WRC (Women’s Refugee Commission) created and manage the GRYC (Global Refugee Youth Consultations). The GRYC was created from 56 sub-national and national consultations in 22 countries about youth refugees. It is essentially a collection of findings about what are the major struggles refugee’s youths face, explains why it is important to consult with refugee youths, and core actions to take to help refugee youths.

Do you think these plans will be helpful for refugees? What else can countries and organizations do to help refugees? Feel free to discuss your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below or on our Facebook post!

 

Groundhog Day

By Jacob Kinsman

Groundhog Day is an odd day. Every year on a February second we put our trust in a rodent to predict the future.  To most, this day is insignificant, but to the Pennsylvania Dutch this day is immensely meaningful.

Every  year on Groundhog Day, some Pennsylvania Dutch congregate at a Grundsau Ladsch (Groundhog Lodge) to participate in a Groundhog Day ceremony.  The 78 year old tradition has been a cornerstone for the preservation of Pennsylvania Dutch language.

According to the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society, In March of 1933 William “Pumpernickel Bill” Troxell, Rev. Thomas Brendel, Dr. Edgar Balliet and Harry Spanuth gathered in Allentown, Pennsylvania to form the first groundhog lodge or “Grundsau ladsch nummer ains an der lechaw” (Groundhog Lodge #1 at the Lehigh River). Due to poor relations with Germany, many Americans were apprehensive about embracing German culture. Thus the lodge was formed with hopes of preserving the Pennsylvania Dutch Language.

The lodges acted separately until 1987 when the Grossdaai Lodge (Grandfather Lodge) was established to increase communication between the independent establishments.  Since its creation, the Grossdaai Lodge has assisted affiliated lodges in promoting and preserving Pennsylvania Dutch Heritage. One of the Grandfather Lodges most remarkable achievements is its assistance in developing the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center on Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s campus.

The Pennsylvania Dutchs’ celebration of Groundhog Day is very spiritual. Meetings begin with the members singing “America”, followed by the pledge of allegiance, a moment of silence, and an opening prayer. After their prayers, members pledge allegiance to “exalted ruler” (the groundhog) and acknowledge their faith in its weather forecasting ability. Next members dine on typical Pennsylvania Dutch cuisines while enjoying small talk and ethnic music. Following dinner, the guests acknowledge each other and business talk is conducted.  The groundhog ceremony comes next. Finally, at the conclusion of the ceremony and before dismissal there is one final moment of prayer.

To the outside world, Groundhog Day seems to be nothing more than an extreme weather forecast, but to the Pennsylvania Dutch it symbolizes the preservation of their culture.

For more information about the origins of the Grundsau Ladsch please visit: http://www.lynnheidelberg.org/groundhoglodge.html

The Rohrbach Library also offers a plethora of additional Groundhog day related content:

  • Columbia Pictures presents: Groundhog Day, Starring Bill Murray. A comedy about a sarcastic weatherman reliving the worst day of his life over and over again.
  • Check-out “Serious Nonsense: groundhog lodges, Versammlinge, and Pennsylvania German heritage” by Professor William Donner of Kutztown University from the Rohrbach library for additional information.

Interestingly enough early ceremonies involved the consumption of our furry forecaster. Read more by Jennisfer Latson at Time.

 

 

 

Movie Monday: The Divide

by Sarah Berry

Investigating the growing issue of wealth inequality, specifically in the U.S. and the U.K., “The Divide,” offers an in-depth look into the lives of seven individuals of varying wealth.

In addition to providing insight into the day-to-day lives of everyday people, the documentary also offers expert commentary to analyze and explain the shrinkage of the middle class and subsequent gap in wealth.

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“The Divide” is available now on Kanopy Streaming. If you are accessing Kanopy Streaming off-campus, view our blog post, Accessing Library Resources Off-Campus, for more information.

#Throwback Thursday: Horton Hears KU Event

by Sarah Berry

Take a look back at the March 2014 event to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Horton Hears a Who.”

The More You Know...

by Dale Bond

A Recap of the Horton Hears KU Event

P1010577 This is Max.

P1010592 Max was very worried none of his friends would come to his party.
“Sigh. Nobody’s here.”

P1010578 Wait a second, Max. Look behind you!

P1010579 “My friends!!”

P1010580 “Let the party begin!”

P1010581 At the party, there were lots of yummy snacks. Max ate a lot.

P1010582 Max, did you eat all of that cake?!

P1010583

P1010584 “Maaaaaybe….”

P1010585 Max read lots of his favorite books at the party.

P1010586 And made tons of new friends!

P1010587 So did Horton…

P1010588 …and Fox in Socks…

P1010590 …and even mean old Yertle the Turtle!

P1010594 Everyone had a grand old time!

P1010601 “And look! There are my friends who planned this whole thing!”

P1010595 “I can’t wait until the next party!”

Lorax says

Our thanks to Dean Garber from the College of Education for sponsoring the snacks!

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“Starving the Beast”continues to gain media coverage

by Sarah Berry

Kanopy Streaming’s newest addition to its catalog, “Starving the Beast,” is earning acclaim and attention from national media sources, like “The New York Times.”

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Check out the links below to read some of the coverage “Starving the Beast” and don’t forget to watch it for free through Kanopy Streaming here.

Movie Monday: “Blackfish”

by Sarah Berry

Released in 2013, “Blackfish” made waves with its findings regarding the captivity of orcas, with a specific focus on SeaWorld and one of its killer whales, Tilikum, who has killed three individuals during his captivity.

Chronicling Tilikum’s journey, the documentary sheds light on the health effects of captivity on orcas, such as the collapsed dorsal fin, which is seen almost exclusively in captive orcas and the gnawing of concrete, which wears down their teeth.

As well, the film educates viewers about the methods used to train orcas, such as by withholding food; this method resulted in Tilikum being abused at Sealand by two other orcas, who were also denied food.

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Since the film’s release, SeaWorld has denied many of the claims by filmmakers. Audiences, however, appear to have sided with the filmmakers as represented by SeaWorld’s continued drop in profits, most notably in 2015, when it reported a 84% drop in profits.

“Blackfish” is available now on Swank Digital Campus. If you are accessing Swank Digital Campus off-campus, view our blog post, Accessing Library Resources Off-Campus, for more information.

Starving the Beast:The defunding of America’s public universities

by Sarah Berry

Earning its title from the political strategy of limiting government spending by cutting taxes (and therefore revenue), the documentary “Starving the Beast,” provides an in-depth examination of the ongoing power struggle between public universities and political representatives, in regards to funding, which has led to budget cuts and higher tuition rates for students.

Public universities like the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and the University of Virginia are featured throughout the documentary, which examines two opposing views of public education: one, that it is a public good to be supported by society and the other, that the cost of public education should be met by individual degree-earners and private entities.

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To begin watching “Starving the Beast,” click here. If you are accessing Kanopy Streaming off-campus, view our blog post, Accessing Library Resources Off-Campus, for more information.


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