Syrian Refugees in Australia

Meet international and comparative policy studies–anthropology major Hala Baba ’20.

September 3, 2020

Major: international and comparative policy studies–anthropology

Hometown: Kissimmee, Florida

Thesis adviser: Prof. Paul Silverstein

Thesis: Syrians Moving to Australia: Challenges of Belonging and Becoming

What it’s about: I became interested in Australian refugee resettlement because—like the United States—that country is conservative, and because it accepted a lot of Syrians from the civil war. My thesis is about Syrian refugees and their interactions with extant Australian and Lebanese-Syrian community members and governmental policies and agencies. How do they develop community and integration into Australian society?

What it’s really about: The integration of Syrian refugees into Australian society and factors that hinder or help their progress.

In high school: I was ambitious, an overachiever, and hell-bent for being challenged academically. The International Baccalaureate program and Advanced Placement were not enough of a challenge.

Influential class: Anthropology 465: Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity gave me a better perspective on ethnographic work and helped inform my research when it came to my interlocutors and their experiences.

Influential book: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. Reading fantasy provided an escape from theory and from the concrete world, and allowed me to tune into my creative side.

Concept that blew my mind: Sectarianism, and how it is weaponised to pull people apart all around the world.

Cool stuff: Model United Nations, Arabic House, the Pantry, Peer Mentor Program, and Tír na nÓg. I learned to tango, went rafting, and was a tutor.

Awards, fellowships, grants: Anthropology Research Grant, Undergraduate Research Grant.

Challenges I faced: Knowing who I am, and not letting others’ negativity and stress influence my achievements and goals.

How Reed changed me: Reed helped me realize the difference between a wolf and sheep. Being a wolf is the goal: understanding one’s self and following through—even when all others stand against you—is better than giving up yourself to fit in.

Financial aid: It has meant the world, especially since I would not have been able to get this education without it.

What’s next: I hope to find a career in something I am passionate about, such as grass-roots politics or the foreign service.