Me We

My name is Joy Labaky and I am a 20 year old Lebanese majoring in Business Management. Born in a digital age where technology impacts us all, media obviously impacts me as well. I, just as many of us, use it for multiple reasons. Mainly, collecting information, whether it’s about celebrities I admire our moody political system, or other foreign matters, media bonds me to this outer world keeping me updated and informed. I also use it to communicate with friends who live in Beirut whereas I live in the urbans. To share experiences and opinions with my friends, as well as for research. It truly has become my major source of information, entertainment, and a habitual necessity in my life. My life has always been peaceful. I was never forced to leave home, my parents are alive, and I am enrolled in a good university. I was always satisfied with my life and didn’t think about anyone else or what was happening around me. However, it wasn’t until the Syrian war that I found myself viewing life from a different perspective. I found myself caring for others and listening from the perspective of people who did not have what I had. This all happened when my school BHS, a very diverse school with many students from all over the world began to welcome Syrian refugees into its system. By 10th grade, my school had already enrolled more than 40 Syrian students. At first, I found myself distancing myself from them. I was taught that Syrians were against us and that my country was in conflict with them. However, I eventually and unconsciously grew closer to them. I found myself befriending them, and even dated one of them. They told me their stories, and shared their difficult experiences with me. I grew to learn so much about them and they became like my family. I found myself empathizing with them, asking myself, “what if I was in their place?”

Maybe because I studied with them and got to know them, that I grew to love them. But others in my community including some of my friends and family members stigmatized them. The media didn’t make things any better. It framed Syrians as thieves, sometimes terrorist, and even abusers. It framed them as the bad guys. The sudden overpopulation due to the Syrian immigration had affected nearly every imaginable sector in Lebanon: the economy, trade, public finance, health, education, safety, the labor market, infrastructure, traffic, and even waste management. Everything was a buzz and my community grew to hate Syria even more. I found people blaming them for job replacement and things they didn’t do as cover ups. Through videos, fake articles, and abusive pictures. They didn’t fit into my community. They worked in really difficult conditions and I saw Syrian kids beg on streets every day. But whether they were upper class Syrians like the ones I met in school or lower class Syrians like the ones I see on streets, they all had one thing in common; sadness evident in their eyes, and a hole that could not be filled again. I think the media brainwashed us into building this wall between the Syrians and us. It distracted us from the fact that we were all humans in the end. But I think slowly slowly things are improving, and the Syrians are being welcomed into our society at last, with media being used for the better

When asked to choose a picture that represents my community. I chose this, because this picture to me best represents ANY community

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