Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teach-In: European Refugee Crisis

Photo of teach-in taken by Raphaela Berding
On September 22nd, a teach-in about the recent refugee crisis in Europe was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The European Union Center was one of the sponsors along with: The Center for Global Studies, Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives, and Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. This article was written by Raphaela Berding, a MAEUS student with the European Union Center.

The auditorium in Bevier Hall was packed. Many students followed the invitation of the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies for a teach-in on the refugee crisis in Europe in which four speakers looked at the diplomatic, political, social and humanitarian law implications of the influx of large populations of refugees coming mostly from Syria into Europe. In their respective fields, Herbert Quelle, Consul General of the German Consulate in Chicago, Zsuzsa Gille, Professor in Sociology, Kostas Kourtikakis, Professor in Political Science, and Lesley Wexler, Professor in Law from the University of Illinois presented important information related to the crisis. Gille and Quelle also talked about the situation in Hungary and Germany, two countries that have been constantly present in the media during the last weeks for their stance on the crisis. They neutrally reflected on how their countries face the crisis and gave their opinion. Gille, who is from Hungary, pointed out that it is important not to judge all Hungarians for rejecting to take in refugees.

 At the end of their talks, students had the chance to ask questions to the panelists. The fact that they came from many different fields, such as History, Political Science or Engineering showed that the crisis is affecting everyone and that it has drawn attention to people all over the world.

 The teach-in left people very satisfied. At the end of the day, the question about what will happen in Europe and how the situation will develop remains. One can only make speculations about the progression of the crisis, and about whether or not Europe will handle it positively and adapt to new circumstances. There is also speculation about which solution the heads of the nation states will come to, which is especially important. As Kourtikakis claimed, what is often forgotten in the debate about the refugee crisis is the second crisis, that Europe has not overcome yet.

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