Witness in Residence: Syrian Refugees Share Their Stories

Syrian refugees Zubair Rushk and Amira Elamri will share their stories of life in Syria and a refugee’s long road to building a life in the United States during a public conversation on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at UNC Charlotte Center City.

Even before the current civil war began, Syria was torn apart by regional alliances and differences in culture, history and language. After being imprisoned in his native country for teaching the Kurdish language and history to Kurdish children, Rushk sought asylum in Lebanon. He was selected in 2010 for the U.S. refugee resettlement program and now makes his home in Cary, NC.

Amira Elamri, her husband and their two children escaped the Syrian civil war in 2013. After nine moves within Syria and one to Lebanon to escape violence, they arrived in the U.S. with tourist visas. The couple now have work visas and live in the Boston area, awaiting approval of their Asylum applications. Ms. Elamri teaches in a Muslim preschool. She will join the conversation via video conversation.

Doors open at 6:00 p.m., and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m. The program is open to the public without charge, but registration is requested. Register here. Information on obtaining a complimentary parking pass will be sent shortly before the event to those who are registered.

Dr. Charles Kurzman, sociology professor and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of Middle East and Muslim Civilizations at UNC Chapel Hill, will provide historical context for the conversation. Poet Susan Shaw Sailer, English professor emerita of the English Department at West Virginia University in Morgantown, will read a new poem about Syrian refugees.

The conversation is a part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau Witness in Residence Initiative. Thanks to generous donors from the community, the initiative provides scholarships for students’ study-abroad experiences related to human rights and social justice. It also supports the annual Witness in Residence Program at UNC Charlotte, bringing to the campus and the community individuals who have personally witnessed an important world event from within that event.

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