Migration and Humanitarian Work in the Middle East

Date & Time October 30, 2020 12:30pm - 1:30pm
IGL General

Please join the Middle East Research Group (MERG) for a panel on migration and humanitarian work in the Middle East. The panel will feature Tufts alums Andreas Ashikalis, Biz Herman, Georgie Nink, and Aline Sara.  They will discuss topics such as entering humanitarian work from undergraduate and graduate positions, the needs and opportunities present in the field today, and living and working abroad. The panelists work in various roles across migration, refugee, and humanitarian work. They come from  backgrounds such as journalism, refugee services, and nonprofits, including the founder and CEO of Natakkalam, a social enterprise providing income for refugees through tutoring in Arabic and other languages. 

There will be moderated discussion as well as the opportunity for Q&A. We look forward to seeing you there!

Andreas Ashikalis (A’02) is the founder and manager of Project Elea, an NGO located in the Eleonas refugee camp in downtown Athens, Greece. Home to over 2,000 refugees, many of them being children, the camp is divided into three sections and overlooked by the Greek Ministry. Its mission statement is “empowering an inclusive community through creative engagement.” This is accomplished by working closely with the residents in the camp and listening to their needs, emphasizing the importance of dignity and respect. Project Elea relies on its volunteers, who come together to run daycare activities, language lessons, food distributions, and more. Ashikalis and Project Elea are committed to bringing joy amid the difficulties of the camp in everyday life.

Biz Herman (A’10) is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at University of California, Berkeley and a photojournalist based in New York City. Her work focuses on the politics of history, conflict, and group belonging; her dissertation research examines the ways in which trauma impacts social stability. Since 2016, she has been an Innovation Fellow at Beyond Conflict’s Innovation Lab, which works to apply research from cognitive and behavioral science to reduce social conflict and foster reconciliation. She was previously a Fulbright Fellow to Bangladesh. An Emmy-nominated photojournalist, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times and has had her photography and research published in national and international outlets. Last year she pitched, co-photographed, and wrote the “The Women of the 116th Congress,” a special project for The New York Times that featured portraits of 130 women of the 116th Congress, photographed in the style of historical portrait paintings, which project was recently published as a book with ABRAMS Books, with a foreword by Roxane Gay.

Georgie Ninkm (A’15) has worked in Jordan for 5+ years, leading youth development programming and producing research on the Syrian conflict for humanitarian and government actors. She spent 3+ years leading a Youth Center for Syrian refugees in Za'atari Camp near Mafraq, Jordan, and one year leading qualitative research on Syrian refugee returns and population movements. She currently researches community resilience and stability in northeast Syria as Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst for Integrity Global. She graduated from Tufts University in 2015 with a BA in International Relations. She is based in Amman.

Aline Sara (A’06) is the co-founder and CEO of NaTakallam, an award-winning social enterprise that hires displaced persons and host communities as online tutors, teachers and translators. When she moved to Beirut in 2006 to pursue a career in human rights and conflict resolution, Aline felt the need to improve her Arabic skills. Despite her Lebanese heritage, Aline grew up in New York and never perfected it. After a stint as a Beirut-based journalist during the years that led to the Arab Uprisings – events that would displace millions, notably Syrians – Aline returned to the US for a Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University. But the seeds for her business had been planted. In 2015, she pitched NaTakallam--a forerunner in leveraging the digital economy to provide livelihoods to the displaced--at a World Bank competition. Today, NaTakallam has distributed $900,000+ in self-earned income to refugees and their host-communities, connecting them to 10,000+ learners and clients worldwide.

Zoom info: https://tufts.zoom.us/j/97346157812