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Danette Gorman presents on Syrian refugee crisis, highlights service opportunities

Science+teacher+Hanna+Robertson+and+guest+speaker+Danette+Gorman+discuss+the+supply+needs+for+this+upcoming+winter+in+Lebanon+for+Syrian+refugees.+Some+of+the+most+important+supplies+are+food%2C+water%2C+cleaning+supplies+and+medicine.+
Science teacher Hanna Robertson and guest speaker Danette Gorman discuss the supply needs for this upcoming winter in Lebanon for Syrian refugees. Some of the most important supplies are food, water, cleaning supplies and medicine.

Science teacher Hanna Robertson and guest speaker Danette Gorman discuss the supply needs for this upcoming winter in Lebanon for Syrian refugees. Some of the most important supplies are food, water, cleaning supplies and medicine.

Photo by Gracie Marx

Photo by Gracie Marx

Science teacher Hanna Robertson and guest speaker Danette Gorman discuss the supply needs for this upcoming winter in Lebanon for Syrian refugees. Some of the most important supplies are food, water, cleaning supplies and medicine.

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A few days after the Community Service fair, guest speaker Danette Gorman presented Archer girls with another service learning opportunity.

Gorman spoke to students on Oct. 23 about her experience volunteering at a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. Co-presidents of the I Am Club, juniors Livia Blum  and Sammy Raucher, reached out to Gorman after hearing about her work from biology teacher Hanna Robertson, her stepdaughter.

Gorman was working in fashion technology in New York City when she realized her true passion with service. While working at a work event, she watched a series of films displayed at the event. Gorman was mesmerized by a film about the Syrian refugee crisis and decided to take action.

“I [was] really interested in service and believed that through sharing and giving yourself, a real transformation can happen.” Gorman said.

She then traveled to Lebanon to meet and help families affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Since anti-government demonstrations began in March 2011, the conflict has forced over 6.3 million people out of their homes. Millions of Syrian refugees fled to Lebanon where Mercy Corps, a non-government organization, has aided refugees in supplies since 2012.

Since April 2017, Gorman has delivered supplies to children and families who have been displaced by the Syrian refugee crisis.

“Some of the challenges were weight [and] customs, so I located a local vendor in Lebanon,” Gorman said. “However, they did a beautiful job of packaging and delivering to the children.” 

At the camps, she spoke to different families and children and observed the hardships they faced. The number of rodents that live in the camps are one of the biggest problems, Gorman said

“It is scary,” Gorman said. “When I was there, the women would show me the marks from the bites.”

She suggested that student help to create some type of tool with high frequency that could scare off the rodents in the camps.  

“I think maybe that’s something that the InvenTeam could work on.” Gorman said. 

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Raucher said that she thinks Gorman’s speech was important because a lot of people are not educated about what is happening with the Syrian refugee crisis.

“To have someone who has been to the refugee camp is really inspiring,” Raucher said.

Blum and Raucher hope to set up a Skype call between Archer girls and families at different refugee camps. They also hope to have a drive for different supplies that the families need.

Blum said she hopes that Gorman inspires Archer girls be more aware of hardships people are going on around the world.

“I think it’s really important to realize how lucky we are to go to school where it’s safe and comfortable.” Blum said. “And it’s important to be aware of the other things going on in the world, especially at Archer because it’s such a bubble. I hope that Archer girls can take away that if we really work hard and organize, we can make change.”   

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