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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Saint Joe’s sleeps out

Community raises awareness for refugees


Eight Saint Joseph’s University students slept outside in the cold on April 7 to be in solidarity with others halfway around the world.

The students were participating in the Syria Sleepout, an event sponsored by the St. Joe’s campus chapter of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

CRS, a student group on campus, meets every week to learn about global issues and spread awareness to the greater campus community. The group sponsors events such as the Syria Sleepout, to communicate issues of systematic injustice to other students.

Grace Davis, ’17, executive board member of CRS, said the Syria Sleepout has taken place on campus before, and St. Joe’s is not the only university that holds them.

The event was organized by the three members of the CRS executive board along- side Emily Kane, a campus ministry associate.

Davis explained that the sleepout is a great event because it makes people more aware of an issue that is highly relevant in today’s world.

“It’s just a really cool experience to be in solidarity and feel what it would be like,” she said. “It just reminds you that there are people who don’t have a bed to go home to at night.”
The sleepout began with an opening prayer at 8 p.m. last Thursday on the porch of Wolfington Hall. The group of students who participated then ate a simple Syrian meal of rice and vegetables while having a discussion with Cheryl Mrazick, St. Joe’s lo- cal CRS liaison. Mrazick recently returned from a trip to Iraq where she worked with refugees. Davis said that it was great to hear Mrazick’s first-hand experience.

Following the discussion, students read a personal story of a refugee and participated in a simulation called “1,000 days in Syria” which provided various storylines of scenarios that refugees experience.

The students also made signs explaining why they were sleeping out and wrote letters to local government representatives asking them to vote against a current bill in Congress which would bar refugees from entering the United States.

They ended the night with an Ignatian Examen, a short, five-step reflective prayer. At midnight it was lights out as eight students slept outside on the porch of Wolfing- ton.

When asked why they decided to hold the sleepout, Kane explained that this has been an event that students have enjoyed over the past three years and that CRS especially wanted to hold it since the Syrian refugee crisis has become so prevalent.

Kane also made the point that it helps people become more connected to an issue that is physically so far away.

“We are dealing with our own immigration crisis in the United States but the same thing, on a larger scale, is going on in Eu- rope,” Kane said. “Because we are physically distant from that, a lot of times people for- get that it’s happening. It was very important [to] be constantly bringing, shedding light on this issue and saying it doesn’t matter how far away we are. This is still a humanitarian crisis.”

Lara Miller, ’17, is not a member of CRS but has participated in the sleepout for the past three years.

“Just having the chance to sleep out and

experience on a small scale what they are going through, I think that’s so incredible, and that’s why I enjoy it, the education and the solidarity,” Miller said.

She also said that this year she forgot to bring a pillow, so she felt like she really experienced a form of suffering that the refugees go through on a daily basis, which made her appreciate the life she has even more.

Kane had similar sentiments.

“I probably slept like four hours the whole night,” she said, “but every single time I woke up I thought immediately of these refugees.”

Both Davis and Kane expressed their hope that this event will educate students about such a prominent issue and encourage them to take action in their greater communities.

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