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Syrian crisis unifies students

By GABRIELA MALESPIN | Wednesday, October 16, 2013


The Syrian Solidarity Group, a new group focusing on awareness, support and action with regard to the Syrian crisis has formed in order to extend Notre Dame’s spirit of compassion across the globe. 

A core group of students, in partnership with the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), American Red Cross ND, Human Rights ND, the Arabic Club and Peace Fellowship, will host a Syrian Solidarity Lunch on Thursday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Geddes Hall Coffee House. 

Junior Matthew Caponigro, one of the organizers of the event, said the solidarity lunch is meant to keep people thinking about the Middle Eastern nation.  

“We coordinated [a] fast and prayer for Syria [on Sept. 7] and then went back to the drawing board and said ‘How are going to make this a sustainable movement? How are we going to make this an issue on campus?'” Caponigro said.  

The lunch is free with a suggested donation of $5 and will include typical Syrian food, Caponigro said. The event will also feature discussion leaders and literature about the Syrian conflict. There will be a sign-up sheet for students hoping to get involved with the new Syrian Solidarity Group on campus. 

“The Syrian lunch is the first event of what is going to be a larger campaign,” Caponigro said. “We’re working through the established structure of the clubs [that coordinated to put on the lunch] to try to put together a cohesive, comprehensive response that addresses the issues of peace in the Syrian conflict.”

Among other plans, Caponigro said the group hopes to organize a dinner after Thanksgiving break, invite a keynote speaker to highlight life in Syria, create petitions for non-violent action and Skype with a reporter from the broadcasting company Al Jazeera

Caponigro said the CSC and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies have previously sponsored lectures about the Syrian crisis. Thursday’s lunch is about letting students know the problems in Syria are ongoing and their support makes a difference, he said.

“I want students to know that this issue isn’t going away anytime soon,” Caponigro said. “Basically, I want people at refugee camps to know that there are students thinking about you, praying for you, supporting you.”