by Morgan Sturdevant
A collage of faces is scattered inside the rhombus-like shape of a Middle Eastern country. That country is Syria, whose civil war has cost nearly half a million lives over the past six years. The faces are part of a mural that Project ’79 has created with the goal of giving WHS students more insight on the human rights atrocities in Syria.
Senior and Project ’79 member Carina Kubis has been working on the project. “After the recent chemical attacks, we thought it would be a good idea to create an installation to open people’s eyes to the violence in Syria and get people talking about what we can do to help,” Kubis said.
Project ’79 Coordinator Ms. Jacqueline Spring hopes the mural makes WHS students more aware of the conflict. “We really wanted to provide an opportunity to learn more about what has been going on in Syria since 2011, the goal being to provide resources to educate people,” she said.
For the final product, the group hopes to provide a timeline of the conflict since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, as well as “little images and snippets of [Syrian] people’s experiences,” according to Spring. There will also be a place to insert anonymous questions and Spring anticipates that she and Project ’79 members will seek out answers to put on the mural.
Mr. Roy Chambers, WHS art teacher and Project ’79 artist-in-residence, said that teasers of the mural will be posted throughout the high school that direct students to the exhibit.
Junior Yara Assadi, one of Spring’s American Studies students whose father was born in Damascus, Syria, has been helping with the project. “I feel for them because of my background, but I don’t want it to be limited to that,” she said. “I want people to not have to relate it to themselves first before they empathize with those who are suffering. I want them to try and step in those people’s shoes without them having to say ‘Oh, well they’re nothing like me, so there’s no way for me to be able to understand what’s going on.’
“For some people, the forgotten people are strangers, but for me, they’re family members. People forget they exist and forget they’re suffering,” she added.