Last week, The Manhattan College Catholic Relief Services (CRS) displayed a boat cutout on the Quad to bring awareness to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
Junior Kayli McTague, Student Ambassador for the CRS at MC, explained the purpose of this display. On the boat display, students and faculty passing by could notice photographs, graphs, poems, and other pieces of artwork provided by the Manhattan College community.
“We included photographs, poems, charts, graphs, news stories, artwork, and a number of other contributions from the college community. We hoped to have media that would appeal to everyone, because we believe everyone can and should do something. The group came up with the idea together and as we continued to work on it, everyone had an idea that shaped the final display,” McTague said.
McTague also explained to The Quadrangle that the display was much more than photos to bring awareness to a cause.
“Our display was put together with the intent of raising awareness for this issue, conveying our responsibility as Lasallians to address it, and in the coming weeks we hope to have members of the college community sign letters to their representatives to advocate for bills that will support relief efforts and prevent more damage from being done in the future. It was a collaborative effort from our organization to do something in response to one of the most pressing current humanitarian issues,” McTague said.
Lois Harr, the director of Campus Ministry and Social Action told The Quadrangle a little bit about CRS and the display, and why, we as students, educators, and faculty of a Lasallian institution should care:
“As a CRS Global Campus it’s our ongoing responsibility and commitment to raise awareness and urge advocacy on serious international issues – like migration/immigration; climate change; and human trafficking. So – as a follow up to the immigration simulation last semester we decided to highlight refugees – and ‘sailing with solidarity: refugees in words and pictures’ was developed. We should care about this because we are a Catholic Lasallian school and uphold Human dignity, concern for the poor and social justice. It’s also a part of Catholic Social Teaching, and we are all be people of good will – Catholic, Muslim, believers, nonbelievers…. Along with that, as people with power, privilege, education in the developed world – we should think of ourselves and responsible and responsABLE. Because we are. The next step- is we need people to take some action steps – do some advocacy for Syrian refugees,” Harr said.
While the display most definitely made an impact on McTague and the other members of the CRS, many students and faculty were pleased to say that they were also moved by this display.
Sophomore Talia Price is not only a member of the lacrosse team, but also a campus tour guide, giving tours the week that this display was on the Quad.
“I am more than happy that our campus constantly brings awareness to issues like this– the issues that although are very important, many people sometimes fear talking about. It’s better to become educated and informed than to remain uneducated and uninformed on issues like the Syrian refugee crisis. The pictures, facts, and other writings were beautiful, and very informative. I think what made it so amazing was that the display was so accessible. Instead of looking up information or talking to a professor, we were able to see the facts, and be reminded everyday that we have to do everything in our power to first educate everyone on what’s going on, and next, help.” Price said.
The Catholic Relief Services is an official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. As Manhattan College works along with CRS, the CRS Student Ambassador’s at MC create campus engagement through acts of solidarity with everyone to build a just, peaceful world.
“The Manhattan College Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors seek to carry out the mission of CRS on our campus by educating our peers about major social injustices happening globally and advocating for relief for the individuals who are impacted by them. The Syrian Refugee Crisis has left more than 470,000 people dead, and more than 13.5 million displaced and/or in need of humanitarian aid,” McTague said.
As a Student Ambassador for CRS, McTague works to inspire, advocate for change, and bring awareness to worldwide issues.
“In my own reading and research about the crisis, there was one line from the poem Home by Warsan Shire that really struck me– ‘you have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.’ I have been overwhelmed with how devastating it continues to be, especially as the coverage in the media continues to be less and less,” said McTague.
McTague believes that change can be made with the help of her peers, faculty, and all other members of the Manhattan College community and beyond. “I believe everyone is obligated to do something to fight atrocities like these, and especially as Lasallians, our thoughts and actions must be guided by our call to uphold human dignity whenever possible.”