Author: Nzar Sharif
Dozens planned to come from across the globe to EMU for peace building training. But many got blocked.
For almost 25 years, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU has hosted scholars, delegates and community leaders from around the world to Harrisonburg to explore the nature of conflicts and ways to handle them. But this summer, many aspiring peacebuilders got turned away because the U.S. government wouldn’t approve travel visas so they could enter the country to attend the sessions, which ran from May 13-June 14.
Community potluck seeks to build ‘Bridges’ with sweet desserts, friendly greetings and lots of dancing from across the globe
Even though many Harrisonburg residents come from across the globe, it’s not every day that people get to exchange elements of their cultures with each other — taste foods with new flavors, interact with different languages, hear stories and learn new habits from different corners of the globe.
More than 100 people assembled in Hillandale Park last Tuesday to greet each other and laugh, share desserts and drink coffee and tea. Some were Egyptian (they preferred coffee). Some were Kurdish (they preferred tea). And as the adults laughed, danced and talked in their separate pavilions, the children all played together — mostly baseball — and enjoyed Eid al-Fitr.
I was sent to go door-to-door with a friend of mine, who was from the area. She is white, blonde and an American girl. I came to the U.S. in 2016 from Kurdistan region of Iraq. Every time she rang the bell, we were met by nice people with a great sense of welcoming. The first time I rang the bell, a gentleman opened the door. He asked me with a stern tone: “What do you want?”