From the moment that I realized that I was going to have trouble getting in, much less finding a seat, it was clear that there was significant interest in the refugee crisis, which was discussed in part by a returning Fulbright Scholar, Taylor McKenzie. He focused on the history of the refugee situation in Germany, which I found interesting. He himself participated in protests surrounding poor conditions for those waiting to be processed as a part of his Fulbright research. However, the lecture left me with questions. How did Germany get from the situation he discussed, which was decidedly anti-refugees, to its current, much more open position? And how did the events he discussed relate to the situation we find ourselves in?
I came away with two main thoughts. First, it is necessary to find a balance between cautious procedures and humanitarianism. Too often, human rights can be sacrificed in the pursuit of national security. I was reminded of a story that I read about a young Haitian refugee, a child whose father was a political prisoner, who was kept in detention, in prison-like conditions, upon reaching the United States. In the story, and I believe also in the author’s experience, the United States was not a safe place and its treatment of the child was decidedly dehumanizing. Secondly, the issue of refugees, both here in the United States and around the world, is of great concern. I hope I will have the opportunity to hear it discussed more in the future on campus.