Working in Conflict
Princeton students, faculty and staff respond to the global refugee crisis.
Maya Wahrman ’16 arrived in Camp Azraq, a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, not knowing what to expect. In the middle of the hot desert stood miles upon miles of neatly aligned white metal barracks visually representing order and calm, in sharp contrast to the violence from which most of the camp’s inhabitants had fled. Only the barbed wire fencing and Jordanian police patrolling the grounds and positioned at checkpoints indicated that the 32,000 people in the camp weren’t free to leave. They were free to learn, however, which is the reason why Wahrman, a program assistant focusing on forced migration in Princeton’s Office of Religious Life, and her colleagues had traveled to the refugee camp.
They were serving as peer advisors, helping to facilitate an online global history course that Jeremy Adelman, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Princeton, was offering as part of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and the University’s Global History Lab. In addition to the Camp Azraq location, Princeton colleagues also served as tutors in refugee camps in Amman, Jordan, and in Kakuma, Kenya.
“I’m very excited to be sending this team to these refugee camps,” Adelman says. “Teaching refugees reveals the possibilities and limits of universities as humanitarian agents. I want my students in Princeton, Geneva and in the refugee camps to learn from each other – to learn global history globally, in the most inclusive way imaginable.”