On Mar. 5, Mary Maker, an expert on the refugee experience, visited Meredith for a convocation about refugee education that was both informative and inspiring. Maker, a refugee herself from South Sudan, spent many years in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. There, unlike many other refugee girls, she was able to get an education because both her parents supported education for girls. Though she faced many struggles, as recounted in her talk, Maker was able to graduate high school and begin teaching her own classes in the Kakuma camp in order to educate a new generation of refugees.
During the convocation, Maker showed many images of the Kakuma refugee camp, including the classrooms that are stuffed with children. Since most Americans never have the chance to see a refugee camp in person, these images helped Maker’s point: it’s difficult for someone to argue that educating refugees isn’t an important issue when they can see the reality of the camps which education can help them escape.
One of the most empowering portions of Maker’s convocation was her recount of her many obstacles to getting an education. The barriers she faced were frankly unimaginable, but despite deaths in the family and subsequent pauses in her schooling, Maker persevered and was able to graduate. Though she does not have a college degree or a publishing deal, she has spread her message about the importance of educating refugees through a TED talk and through her role as a teacher in the refugee camp. Her passion and belief in her message was clearly portrayed through every word she spoke and the convocation left me feeling that something absolutely needs to be done in this country to further the education of refugees.
If you did not attend the convocation and would like to see Mary Maker speak for yourself, watch her TED talk, “Why I Fight for the Education of Refugee Girls (Like Me),” at ted.com.
By Olivia Slack, Features Editor