Refugees

 

Best-selling author Mohsin Hamid spoke at Penn State Altoona on Tuesday as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series. His most recent novel, “Exit West,” was selected as Penn State Altoona’s Common Read for this year.

“Exit West” tells the story of two refugees, Nadia and Saeed, who flee a nameless country on the brink of civil war. During his keynote address, Hamid talked about the connection he sees between migrating and growing old. He tried to focus on this commonality in the novel, rather than on the ways refugees are different.

 

There are some books I read and don’t think about much afterwards. They just don’t leave a lasting impact.

But “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid stayed with me.

A portrait of a refugee child, Hanna, is on display in the window of the Corner Room in downtown State College.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

State College resident Penny Eifrig spends part of each year living in Berlin, Germany. As Berlin accepted refugees in 2015, Eifrig got involved in the cause. Her involvement led to the photo series “They Have Names,” which has been on display in downtown State College since Nov. 3. WPSU graduate assistant Adison Godfrey talked with Eifrig about the photo exhibit and her work with refugees.

Adison Godfrey: Thanks for talking with me.

Refugee Ahmad Issa plays with his children.
Daniel Sonnentag

The Centre County Refugee Welcome Committee is stuck in a holding pattern.

The committee, which includes eleven religious groups, had hoped to be helping a refugee family settle in Centre County this year, according to member Penny Eifrig.

refugees and volunteers
Penny Eifrig

State College resident Penny Eifrig is currently volunteering at a refugee camp in Berlin. She says that she’s had many positive experiences working in the camps and getting to know the refugees. Eifrig says that the United States should be more welcoming to these people.

“The people who are seeking asylum and looking for a safe place to go are incredible people who had wonderful lives and a home that they want to call home," Eifrig said. "And that home has been destroyed and they just want a safe place for them and their families.”