Contributed by a grade 11 student

For a long time now, I have been troubled by the normalization of xenophobia in our society. I am an avid reader of news. The media’s negative coverage of the refugee “crisis” in Europe was something I never quite understood. What strikes me as most distressing is the notion that to many people, the refugees fleeing war-torn countries are nothing more than a number, a statistic they see in the newspapers.

So when Mr. Ambrozy asked if I wanted to volunteer at the Alsemberg red cross center for refugees, I did not hesitate. We were tasked with entertaining the children at the center and as I am not the most athletic, I chose to be a part of the group that did arts & crafts.

I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that it was probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. To get the privilege of laughing, drawing and making bracelets with these children, I am extremely thankful for, and perhaps we were able to give them a sense of normalcy, a sense of carefree fun, in what must be an extremely stressful situation for them, being a refugee in a foreign country. During our visit we also got to meet briefly with some of the adults living at the center, and their resilience really made an impression on me, it was obvious that they were making the best out of the situation.

With society as we know it having taken a turn for the worse during the past few years, I think a display of compassion and understanding will go a long way.