The Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) hosted a discussion about ‘Refugees: Surviving Trauma & Clinging to Hope’ on 19 February 2020. The lecture was presented by International guest speaker Professor Sophia Pandya, department chair of religious studies at the California State University at Long Beach (CSULB) . The discussion was moderated by Lia Timson, the Deputy Foreign Editor at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. The discussion was participated by over 50 people from various backgrounds.
The discussion started when Sophia took to the lectern as the keynote speaker to share her findings and research about the Turkish refugee situation in Greece. She explained the plight of many refugee men, women, and children with case studies. Sophia explained how refugees could face many challenges such as armed conflict, hiding from arrest, time in prison, beatings, torture, sexual assault, human trafficking, or death. Even after arriving to safety, refugees do have challenges in their host countries like getting a job, have a voice, forge social connections, and feel like they belong. However, Sophia made the clear distinction that “refugees are never only refugees – they are human beings with complex identities, life problems, desires, and hopes.”
Sophia’s presentation was followd by a Q&A section which concluded with some gifts of appreciation to the presenter and moderator of the session.
For more information on the panel, see the video and photos below.