Section: Features

New DA series talks revolution, isolation and compassion

New DA series talks revolution, isolation and compassion

Photo by Justin Sun

Sewar Quran ’17 believes in the power of sharing one’s own story.

On Friday, Sept. 16, Quran gave the first talk in a new program called Story Time to a crowded Pierce Lounge. Story Time, which is hosted by the Discrimination Advisors (DAs), gives all students and Kenyon community members a platform to share stories of their unique backgrounds with hopes of reminding the College’s community of its own diversity. A DA herself, Quran kicked off the fledgling program with the story of her experiences growing up in Jordan.

“At Kenyon it’s easy to get stuck in our little worlds, to think that this is what everyone lives like,” Quran said.

Quran, who grew up on an air force base in Jordan during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and experienced the Arab Spring while attending boarding school in Jordan, recognizes how easy it can be to generalize the experiences of others. During her talk, she spoke of feeling isolated in her passion for the issues of the Middle East. She attributes this to the fact that others do not possess the same personal experiences that she does.

“We might have feelings about people that we don’t know or know from a distance and forget that they exist in the same way that we exist,” she said.

Quran hoped her talk would broaden her listeners’ views, so they not only recognized the humanity of people in the Middle East, but the humanity in every single person surrounding them.

She described how her childhood on a military base in the conflict-ridden Middle East has given her a strong distaste for soldiers. She also read a poem inspired by the loss of a friend during the Arab Spring and spoke passionately about how the real cost of human life is often lost in the romanticism of revolutions.

As she talked, Quran held a piece of paper outlining topics she wished to address, but she made a point of consulting it as little as possible to maintain the talk’s personal atmosphere. She said she wanted her audience “to be engaged in a way that can relate to individuals personally.”

Quran thinks human connection is powerful. “Talking about something from a distance is not the same thing as knowing someone who is going through whatever it is we’re talking about,” she said.

Quran wanted to give her listeners a face to attach to all the conflict they hear about in the Middle East.

“[When] you meet someone face to face it humanizes all of these struggles,” she said. “Our experiences with some of our friends or some of our professors [at Kenyon] can help us understand people outside better.”

Her message during the talk was simple but effective, as she recieved passionate applause from a captivated audience, for which extra chairs had to be wheeled in.

“We need to train ourselves to see the person in front of us as a human being first before we see them as anyone else,” she said.

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