In the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Paris–people all around the world are fearful–could it be my city, state, or country attacked next?
“A lot of students were really upset, and employees about kind of the hateful talk the fearful talk,what’s going on. So, we wanted to create a space where people can learn more and understand a little better and create maybe more informed decisions,” said Colleen Ryan Mayrand, Director of Service for Social Action Center at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Instead of living in fear students and staff came together for an open forum, with speakers and discussions about terrorism. Several students spoke, including Rubis, whose family fled as refugees from Rwanda in the early 1990s. He said he is proud of his university for talking and learning about tough issues.
“And the way we talk about refugee here we have more like this fear about them, and I wanted to share my experience and what they have been through so people can understand they are still human beings and we can still help each other,” Rubis Ngenzi, a Wheeling Jesuit junior studying politics.
It was a safe space for students to ask questions and voice their opinions, and combat some fear on campus.
“I think more the fear of just what’s going on, how can we learn more about this, what can we do, type of thing,” said Colleen Ryan Mayrand.
At the heart of the discussion, a lack of understanding and hatred can easily be solved with peace and compassion.
“The students accounts are really impactful, hearing how its impacted them and their perspectives on it, we can learn a lot from the students,” said Colleen Ryan Mayrand.
“And understand that we are all human beings and what we are looking for, it’s more about peace, security, and freedom,” said Ngenzi.
Colleen Ryan Mayrand also said the big turnout showed just how much students wanted to talk about these issues.