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Public Relations — Corporate Communications student Elisia Ciancio interviews Seneca alumna Sadika Jeraj for the FCAD newsletter. Many of the schools in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Design (FCAD) worked together on the event. Elisia's interviews will be published in the FCAD newsletter which is distributed to all faculty, staff and students in the Faculty of Communication, Art & Design.

Across borders and disciplines, raising funds for Syrian refugees

by Annie Dossey, Adrienne Martin, Ranjini Chakravorty, Justine Genova, Karina Moskvitin, Katelin Onishi - Public Relations — Corporate Communications

Photos by Professor David Turnbull

Students and faculty came together Thursday, Sept. 17 to raise $6,000 and increase awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis. Spurred into action by the horrific images of suffering caused by the Syrian armed conflict, Dr. Michael Maynard, Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art & Design, proposed the event and was immediately met with support from students and faculty.

Speaking with Dr. Maynard, he expressed that “what we accomplished was multifaceted. We were able to raise funds to help refugees, and engage students from so many disciplines to think beyond a program or course perspective, and to start to think about the bigger issues in a global context.”

A collaborative event with Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders, “Make a Difference” brought together students from multiple programs. Coinciding with Frosh Week, the event included a silent auction, caricature drawings, musical performances and a speech by David Agnew, president of Seneca College.

There was an air of excitement throughout the courtyard as live music energized the crowd. Students from the illustration program created visual depictions of what the Syrian crisis meant to them, while journalism students interviewed participants. As part of the Live Comic Project, one student drew inspiration from news headlines and turned them into art.

The event was an opportunity for students to learn more about the refugee crisis. Alumna and volunteer Sadika Jaraj said “awareness is the most important part.”

Echoing her statement, advanced biotechnology student Ishrat Jahan expressed the importance of student participation. “We should be encouraging others to get involved,” she said.

For many students, financial barriers limit their ability to donate. But Idriss Lomba, communications officer at Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders, said there is more to it than simply giving money. Stressing the importance of awareness and volunteering with organizations, he said they’re all an important part of the relief effort.

Given the turnout, the overall message was clearly embraced by the Seneca community. Students from different backgrounds can overcome cultural gaps to motivate each other and promote global citizenship. By working together and integrating their talents, the Seneca community is making a difference.

Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders has worked in Syria since 2009, operating medical facilities and supporting more than 100 clinics and hospitals. Donations in support of MSF’s relief effort can still be made online.

Joel Belliveau and Amir Yazdanparast, York University volunteer co-ordinators, receive a tour of the Doctors Without Borders tent from Press Officer Idriss Lomba. The Seneca@York event was attended by a number of interested York students.

Dr. Michael Maynard, Dean of theFaculty of Communication, Art and Design, is interviewed by 2nd year Seneca Journalism students Atia Shahnawaz, Sarah Taupan and Taija Stewart about his goals for the “Make a Difference” event at the Seneca@York campus. The event was organized by Michael in less than two weeks. It was an opportunity to raise awareness of this important global issue, and to have students from several schools in his faculty work together for an enhanced learning experience.

Alumni for change. Sadika Jeraj, Seneca Biotechnology graduate, and Stefen Hakim, a graduate of the Public Relations — Corporate Communications program, discuss the "Make a Difference” fundraiser. Stefan was on campus as a guest speaker and stopped by the table and stayed for the event. Sadika and Stefen discussed ideas about supporting global initiatives, and how important it is for current students to understand them.