Dana Janbek

Dana Janbek: Life on the Ground With Syrian Refugees (#121)

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Our Guest Today: Dana Janbeck

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Dana Janbek is an associate professor of communication at Lasell College in Newton, Mass. Her research focuses on the use of information and communication technologies in the Middle East.

She has recently started her sabbatical and chosen to study the life of Syrian Refugees. 

In fact, Dana has been doing this for years. Her sabbatical is just an excuse to spend even more time on the ground, moving forward with refugees and their families.

Not long ago, she started a campaign with her students at Lasell College and raised money to purchase crucial supplies for refugees and she hand delivered them to their homes. 

If you can’t see the player above, click here to listen.

Why does Dana, or anyone choose to work on such a challenging project during a heated political climate we live in today? 

As a WBUR contributor, Dana wrote in one of her articles

“They might think twice before buying a fresh tomato, but they will spend what meager sums they have to purchase multiple SIM cards…”

Who is this episode for? I hope – everyone. I knew very little about the Syrian refugee crisis which started in 2011, and the fact that it’s still going on today. Dana helped me understand the human side of the refugee stories. If you have read plenty of what’s been circulating in popular media, this conversation will offer you something rather different. 

Dr. Janbek has given dozens of lectures and media interviews in the Northeast on her research. You can contact her by email at [email protected]

To read more about Dr. Janbek, visit this website. To read more about her research with Syrian refugees, download this article.

To read her op-eds, visit these websites:

Show Notes

  • [06:00] Can you tell us a bit about your project coming up?
  • [07:00] Why did this topic interest you so much?
  • [08:00] Can you briefly tell us what the current situation is in Syria?
  • [10:00] What was your first visit like?
  • [12:00] What are some of the primary supplies refugee families need?
  • [13:00] Is life as immigrants (outside of Syria) better or worse compared to how they lived in Syria?
  • [15:00] Why are cellphones so important for them?
  • [19:00] What are some of the things that you have learned from your experience that can help other refugees?
  • [21:00] How does the immigration process work around the world?
  • [25:00] What do your family and friends think about your project?
  • [28:00] How can we teach children better and educate them about the refugee crisis?
  • [32:00] When and why did you move to the US?
  • [37:00] What are your interests outside of education and your project?
  • [39:00] How can people help with the crisis nowadays through donations, organizations, etc.?

Favorite Quotes

  • [09:00] ‘When there’s insecurity and instability in a specific town people are forced to leave and that’s what have lead millions of people to leave Syria to neighbor countries and around a million making it all the way to Europe’
  • [12:00] The biggest challenge facing refugees is the lack of income, because depending on where they migrate, they usually don’t have access to stable jobs.
  • [15:00] The people who have left have all left behind families and friends in Syria. The cellphone becomes their only connection with them. It’s really only through the phone that you can stay in touch with them.
  • [20:00] The story of human experience is a story of resilience when it comes to Syrians refugees. I’ve meet people who really went to hell and back, people who have been tortured, who lost their fiances, their parents, brothers, sisters, children, and at the end of the day, they all have persevered. I think that speaks volumes to the ability of humans to move on despite the biggest challenges you can think about. Part of that is really about not loosing hope.
  • [30:00] They also came here because they wanted to improve their lives and the lives of their family. And that’s a universal concept regardless of whether you are refugee or an immigrant, whether you are from Syria or from Ireland..


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