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March 24, 2016

Joe Verkennes, Director of Marketing and Communications
Monroe County Community College
1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI  48161
(734) 384-4207 (O), (419) 343-3063 (M) 



MONROE, Mich. -- Faisal Al Rawashda was a student at Damascus University when his home was hit by a bomb in July 2013. He was seriously injured, and his family decided to flee the civil war in Syria, first to Jordan and eventually to the U.S., arriving in January.

Next week, Faisal will tell his story as part of a panel discussion at Monroe County Community College on the worldwide refugee crisis.

Faisal was studying to become a lawyer when war got in the way. He hopes to return to his law studies in the U.S.

His story is one of millions around the globe, as wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and the Sudan, as well as gang warfare in Central America, destroy homes and send families fleeing.

The MCCC panel discussion will focus on both the human tragedies and the larger socio-political issues, according to Dan Shaw, a journalism professor who is organizing the event.

“We can’t live in our safe communities in the middle of America and turn a blind eye to the tragedies hurting families around the world,” Shaw said.

“Of course, the war on terrorism has made us all wary of exposing our communities to danger, but we also have a responsibility to help relocate people who are dislocated.”

Panel members will include both refugees and experts on the issues surrounding the refugee crisis, Shaw said. The event will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in the La-Z-Boy Center on the MCCC campus.

The panel discussion is part of the One Book, One Community of Monroe County program, which features events planned around the featured book, “All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr.

The One Book program promotes the value of reading by recommending a compelling book that links community members in a common conversation through readings, group discussions, programs and other events.

“All the Light We Cannot See” tells the story of Marie Laure, who lives with her father in Paris. When the Germans occupy Paris in June of 1940, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast.

Because one of the book’s main characters was forced to flee war, the current refugee crisis was chosen as the topic of this year’s panel discussion, Shaw said.

“Not since World War II have there been so many families displaced by war,” he said. “While Europe is bearing the brunt of the problem, it’s a global issue that we can’t ignore.”

About Monroe County Community College

Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is a public, two-year institution supported by tax monies from Monroe County, educational funds from the State of Michigan and student tuition.  

The college’s mission is to enrich and transform lives by providing opportunities and excellence in higher education.  The Main Campus is located at 1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, Mich., 48161, with easy access to Toledo and Detroit.  The Whitman Center is located at 7777 Lewis Ave.,Temperance, Mich., 48182, near the Ohio-Michigan Border.  Detailed information about MCCC is available at