a) General Social Science; Are we doomed to xenophobia and racism?
b) My interview subject was my former Research Methods and Western Civilization teacher, Nancy Rebelo.
c) Yes. In fact, I believe Nancy turned out to be a great interviewee. She is very knowledgeable and has a lot to say concerning the issue of Syrian refugees. Also, she believes that many people are xenophobic and racist because they are misinformed. Furthermore, she does believe that history has the tendency to repeat itself. Therefore, she offered great insight and new perspective to my topic. Even if people have different cultures, different desires and different needs, Nancy believes that they should have an equal opportunity towards peace, and that nationalist interests are all too selfish and fake.
d) I conducted my interview in Nancy’s office. I kindly asked her if I could record the interview, so I could better engage in conversation, instead of rapidly trying to write down everything she was saying. Happily, she agreed without hesitation. Her office was a little crowded, considering she shares it with two other teachers, but that did not bug me too much and it did not really affect the interview either as we were the only two people in the room. My interview did feel very much like a conversation. Nancy was expressing her thoughts and feelings about the present subject of Syrian immigration, as well as its similarities to past immigration waves, such as the Italian, Vietnamese, Haitian and so on. The conversation didn’t really veer off into another direction, however Nancy did mention that she helped plan a Syrian Refugee donation campaign, here, at Dawson College. This just goes to show her great compassion. Overall, I am pleased with my interview experience.
e) Nancy is a very easy person to talk to. She is very open-minded and empathetic. She believes it is everyone’s right to live in peace, and that the country someone is born in does not define his or her true value. I felt very comfortable in her presence. She did not speak to me in an unfamiliar tone; in fact, she embraced my curiosity by nodding her head every time I would ask a question. Her body language was also very welcoming and reassuring. She faced me throughout the whole interview and at the end, she even showed me a short 5-minute clip of a Syrian family experiencing and enjoying Canadian winter for the first time.
f) Q: Why do you think some people are still unwilling to sponsor a Syrian family, or just come to terms with the fact that Syrian Refugees are being accepted into our country?
A: I think it’s because they are uninformed. I think it’s a lack of understanding; it’s also fear, and fear seems to be part of human nature. And so there’s this idea of fear; of fear of the “other”; of fear that their culture is different; that they look different; that perhaps, I want to guarantee my livelihood here; I don’t want more competition for jobs; I don’t want more competition for my kids to get into school. So, there’s a lot of fear. There’s always this issue of jobs, and things like that, but what people fail to realize is that bringing people in through immigration and refugees also creates jobs. There’s an increase in demand for things. So, the taking of jobs is not a valid argument, because we need population in Canada, which is something that a lot of people don’t know. We don’t have a sustainable birth rate, and so we need to increasingly bring people in. This solves both of these issues.
Q: Do you believe in the statement, “History repeats itself”?
A: So, there’s this really good line. I don’t know if it’s still up, but on the chairman’s office door, there used to be this little comic strip and it said:“those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it and those who study history are bound to sit back and watch as everyone else repeats it”. And, this is kind of what I feel like right now. I feel like, yeah, things repeat itself. And this case, is such a good case, because when we teach the Holocaust, in class, and when we talk about these issues, I don’t think there’s anybody that says: “you shouldn’t have let those people in.” And, I often mention ships that came and that were turned back and people were sent back and they died. It was horrible. And, people are outraged; they cannot believe that actually happened. But, it’s happening right now. But, somehow people think it’s different, because time has erased the fears that people had about the Jews in the 1940’s and 1950’s. We no longer have those fears. These people are part of society now. When we talk about Italian immigration and the fears people had; we no longer have those, because time has erased those fears and we’ve proved that there is nothing to fear. So now, there’s another group and the fear has risen again. You know, in 30 or 40 years from now, we won’t even be worried about this group of immigrants anymore. They will have contributed to society; we will have had contact with these people; our children will be educated with the newly arriving groups of children; and it will end the fear. But, who knows where the next wave of people who are looking for a safe place will come from. But, wherever that wave is from, we will likely have fear of those as well.
Q: Why do you think people fear the unknown?
A: I really think it’s a lack of knowledge; it’s a lack of understanding; it’s an emphasis on things that are, perhaps, not as important as we think they are. For example, it’s a different religion. But, we look at things that make us different, as opposed to looking at everything that makes us similar. And so if we start focusing on all the things that make us similar, then perhaps we wouldn’t be so fearful. But, we tend, I don’t know why, to focus on the differences. And, there is this kind of cultural supremacist mindset where we tend to think that our culture is better; is normal. So when people come from a culture that is different, we perceive theirs as, somehow, less valuable than ours and that’s just a perception; it is not reality.
Q: Would you be willing to donate money to help a Syrian family survive in Canada?
A: Yes. Absolutely. It’s hard to understand how we can close our doors to such perseverant people. Even if people have different cultures, different desires, different needs, I kind of believe that people need to have the opportunity towards peace. If we start to speak about nationalist interests, and all of that, it’s really selfish and all fake. You know, we have our success because we were fortunate enough to be born in a place that doesn’t have war, but if we weren’t, it wouldn’t make us any less valuable. And so, we need to open up our doors; that’s my policy.
g) Before the interview, I never really thought about the economic implications of newly arriving refugees. However, after meeting with Nancy, I agree with her. Trump’s travel ban is a racist policy founded under the principles of fear and it doesn’t really make sense on an economic level. This policy is not only bad because of moral issues, but it’s also bad because it fails to recognize the positive contributions that immigration may bring to the country. Furthermore, I thought it was really interesting how Nancy mentioned that, as humans, we fear the unknown because we only focus on things that make us different. However, if we were to examine all our similarities, maybe immigrants wouldn’t be so scary anymore. I was also very captivated by the facts Nancy was sharing with me. She mentioned that Canada needs more population because we have an unsustainable birth rate. I bet people, just like myself, are not familiar with this issue, which is the problem Nancy was trying to address. Our population is ignorant and misguided. It might be interesting to add this particular perception to my feature article.