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Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones


Republished from the New Indian Express   By Blessy Mathew Prasad Published: 30th May 2016 06:00 AM Last Updated: 28th May 2016 01:51 PM Gun shots, bloodshed, refugee camps, hatred, basically …

Source: Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones

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Teaching for Peace and Change in the World’s Biggest War Zones


Republished from the New Indian Express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/edex/Teaching-for-Peace-and-Change-in-the-Worlds-Biggest-War-Zones/2016/05/30/article3454921.ece

 

Published: 30th May 2016 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 28th May 2016 01:51 PM

Gun shots, bloodshed, refugee camps, hatred, basically anything that says ‘war’ – would probably scare away millions of us who have never seen that side of life. Except maybe for a few like Siraj Davis. An American citizen of Japanese origin, Siraj made one of the biggest decisions of his life six years ago, when he entered Syria, determined to do everything he could to remove refugees from their misery. It would come at a huge price, of course. And he was ready for it.

Six years without departure, witnessing war first hand, and even being deported for his pursuit of refugee rights, Siraj has seen it all. Syria to Jordan and Jordan to Erbil, Kurdistan, Siraj has spent the last six years researching, documenting and helping Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian refugees in the Middle East.

He has taught at numerous international private schools and language institutes and now teaches at the American International School in Erbil, Kurdistan apart from teaching Permerga fighters and fighting for the rights of Yezidi refugees.

Ask him why he loves teaching so much and he emphatically replies, “because that’s the only way out”. For Siraj, education is the door to peace in the Middle East. “It is absolutely necessary to employ and uplift education to deter a trajectory of violent struggle derived from alternative ideologies  surrounding our youth outside of the schools, as opposed to non-violent resistance and tolerant meaningful dialogue,” he says.

He believes that it is the responsibility of teachers to introduce students to the acceptable  rhetoric, to be more forthcoming in the dialogue with the ‘other’ society that teaches them to repel, and to do away with the negative intolerant impediments.

When injustice and violence have become the cultural norm, when you’re constantly told to flee your home to avoid being mistakenly bombed as a terrorist, when you’re separated from loving families for prolonged periods of duration, endure second to third class citizenship, experience languishing penury and cruel abuse and merciless exploitation in your own region and specific nation of refuge, and desperately await a visa to a developed nation which is the only pathway to a real life for them, so often, the young are led to believe that it’s hopeless to even attempt to change things.  That, according to Siraj, is the worst form of submission in any human, to attempt nothing and feel content at such hypnosis. “I have taught students that simple things such as viewing or liking a video about humanity can improve the world. Sending a thank you letter to those who fight for our rights is a step. Making a blog can make a difference. But the first and most exigent step is getting the students to believe in themselves. If it takes an entire school year to convince them of this,  it is absolutely worth it,” he says with conviction.

Deeply inspired by his mother’s compassion for the downtrodden, Siraj has made it his life’s mission too. Little wonder then that the legend Noam Chomsky penned a note of appreciation for Siraj, something that will remain safe in his treasure box.

The Davis Docu

His first book was Religious Fanaticism and Abolition: Early 19th Century Marginalization of David Walker and Nat Turner. In it, he researched the application of religion by the abolitionist movement to justify violence at slave rebellions

He did something never done before in the historiography of the abolition movement by taking prolific author Herbert Aptheker’s record of slave rebellions in America and analyzing it statistically, which demonstrated the phenomena that every 20 years, the level and frequency of violence of rebellious groups tends to increase in a struggle, as it did in abolitionism

Reach out: https://www.facebook.com/siraj.davis

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