By: Samantha Jewell, Humans Editor
Regis University is in the process of holding its 3rd Annual Anti-Oppression Week this week. The university is encouraging students and faculty to go out of our comfort zones, listen to others and keep their minds open to new ideas. As a University we must take accountability for our actions and our words. While doing this the community is invited into open lectures throughout the week. One of these open classes was Dr. Becky Vartabedian’s RCC class Refugees, Resources, and Resettlement, this class was a discussion of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West.
Exit West sets the scene for with a country about to enter civil war as it's backdrop. Then two young people meet, strong and independent Nadia meets gentle and quiet Saeed who embark on a unpredictable love story. Their city is overcome by war and the once familiar streets have turned into checkpoints and bomb blasts. They start to hear whispers about doors – these doors can take people far away, if perilously, and for a price. The violence heightens, Nadia and Saeed decided that they have to leave. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door to open and step through. This story follows Saeed and Nadia as they navigate through an uncertain future and struggle to keep hold of their past, who they are, and each other.
This book is a work of fiction, so the question is how does fiction fit into a talk about Anti – Oppression and Refugees? Dr. Vartabedian led a thought provoking discussion that weaved these two themes together. This work of fiction made this topic relatable and personable. This discussion offered information and rounded out the perspectives of being a refugee through Saeed and Nadia’s journey. When we hear about the state of refugees on the news it often feels removed and we don’t feel for these people in the same way we do when reading a work of fiction. Readers are invited into Saeed and Nadia’s life and they go through life with them.
Dr. Vartabedian’s discussion was enlightening and she was able to orchestrate a discussion about tough topics and create an environment where students and faculty were able to take accountability for their thoughts and open their minds to new ideas.