Philadelphia is home to more than 232,000 foreign-born residents — or nearly 15 percent of the population, plus 19 percent of workers and 14 percent of those living in poverty.
That means Philadelphians are familiar with hearing multiple languages and seeing food trucks representing an array of ethnicities on city streets. But it doesn’t mean all Philadelphians have empathy for those of different backgrounds.
At TEDxPhiladelphia’s next salon, happening Feb. 4, Philly-based bioethicist Shirin Karsan will speak about the immigrant experience and call for increased understanding. The event’s title: “We Are All Immigrants.”
Karsan is an immigrant and refugee herself and currently serves on the board of the nonprofit Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, among others. During her talk, she plans to discuss her own immigrant experience as well as the work she has done with university students to increase their awareness of immigrants’ contributions in the Greater Philadelphia region and nationally.
For instance, she once ran a program at Drexel University preparing students for a service learning trip to Mozambique and The Gambia.
“It was really important that before they head off, they understand the needs of the underserved and underrepresented communities right here in Philadelphia, and really understand what it takes to try and help somebody else that you think needs help — really immersing yourself in that culture and lifestyle of the person you are working with and appreciating what they need,” Karsan said. “What we found in return is the students who thought they were going to help others learned so much about themselves.”
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The core lesson? “Being aware of what you may not know or what you are assuming without really giving yourself a chance to understand the person” is what can curtail Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and the like, she said.
"I work with the Welcoming Center because I want other refugees and immigrants such as myself to also have the opportunity to stand as I am standing here." @ShirinKarsan, Welcoming Center Board Member #WelcomingWorks pic.twitter.com/r0ZMbNN4j5
— Welcoming Center PA (@welcomingcenter) May 3, 2018
Besides Karsan’s talk, attendees can expect to watch an official TED talk on immigration and a facilitated breakout session to dive deeper into the topic.
- When — Monday, Feb. 4, 6 to 9 p.m.
- Where — World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.)
- How much — $10 minimum donation
Don’t forget: The theme of TEDxPhiladelphia’s Spring 2019 conference is “Unintended Consequences.” More details TBD.-30-
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