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In 2015, Josie met Yazan through an online mentorship program. Josie was attending UC Berkeley studying the Middle East and Yazan was based in Latakia, Syria studying Mechanical Engineering. Since then, Yazan, like so many other Syrians, has had to leave his family, his home and all of what he knew because of the war. Since then the US has implemented a Travel Ban against people from Iran, Yemen and Syria, causing the separation of families, denying people of opportunities and education and other-izing them because of the country they were born in. Instead of welcoming vulnerable and traumatized people to sanctuary, Western nations have closed borders, took far-right and conservative policies toward refugees and intensified their trauma.
In 2017, Josie traveled with the Ibrahim Dialogue and Leadership Program to the Middle East where she met several inspiring change-makers. As a way to bring these inspiring people and their stories into conversation with Americans who might not be able to travel to the Middle East, Yazan and Josie teamed up to create a virtual cross-cultural dialogue project that shows the true lives, stories and art of the people from the places that the media "otherizes" for violence and conflict.
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