After eight months of intense planning, ISOW hosted a one-day conference that explored the human realities of conflict. Along with the help of many ISOW student leaders and scholars, the event was a large success and explored the human realities of the Syrian and Palestinian conflicts.
The day began with small presentations on the background and history of the Syrian conflict and then had participants break into smaller groups for a simulation activity on Syria. The simulation assigned each participant a fictional character and had groups split into fictional family profiles. The families were then given three moments from the Syrian conflict over the course of the activity where they had to decide whether to flee Syria or stay based on the restrictions of their characters. The families would then learn later of the consequences of their decisions to stay or go which sometimes resulted in the loss of a family member or the loss of livelihood.
After a lunch of Syrian cuisine, the symposium featured a workshop on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and in Syria. This workshop involved many speakers from these camps sharing how the camps impacted their cultural identity. Additionally, the workshop featured a film made specifically for the symposium that illustrated art, culture and daily life in the Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon called Ein El Hilweh.
At the end of the day, a Dabke dance troupe performed and taught the participants how to dance Dabke. This was included to showcase the rich culture of the places that the conference focused on. ISOW wanted staff and students to develop empathy for people whose everyday lives are impacted by conflict, but it was equally important that sadness and sorrow did not overshadow resilience, culture and agency that they have.