Alia Malek — a journalist, civil rights lawyer, and author of The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria — will present a virtual public lecture and panel discussion on November 13 from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

In 2015, Malek traveled from Greece to Germany with a group of Syrians fleeing their country’s disintegration. The refugees had met while marooned on the same raft in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Each of them came from a different part of Syria and from different socio-economic classes. Their sights were set on making it to Sweden and the Netherlands. Some of them would be forced to ask for asylum in Germany.

Since then, Malek has been reporting on their lives and
displacement across these three countries as part of a 10-year reporting project. Drawing on this work, she will consider what replaces the very idea of home when home itself becomes unattainable and its permanence illusory.

Malek will speak from 12 to 12:45 p.m., followed by a panel discussion on the refugee experience from a variety of perspectives. How, for example, can working with displaced populations be a mutually enriching experience, rather than one of “saving” others?

Joining Malek in that discussion will be Nadine Sinno, an associate professor of Arabic and director of the Arabic program at Virginia Tech, and Jake Keyel, a postdoctoral research associate at the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation at Virginia Tech. Katherine Randall, a doctoral candidate in the Rhetoric and Writing program at Virginia Tech and a volunteer medical coordinator for the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, will moderate the discussion. 

To attend the virtual event, register here.

Malek is director of the International Reporting Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, a journalist, and a former civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka: US History Re-Told Through Arab American Lives and editor of Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustices. With collaborators the Magnum Foundation and Al Liquidoi, Alia edited and co-conceived EUROPA: An Illustrated Introduction to Europe for Migrants and Refugees, released in Europe in 2016. Her narrative nonfiction book, The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, was released in 2017.   

The virtual event is sponsored by the Community Change Collaborative, a graduate student group at VIrginia Tech; the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance; the Virginia Tech Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies; and the Center for Rhetoric in Society in the Virginia Tech Department of English.

Contact with questions.