Global refugee crisis moves students to action
By Mark Janzen
In the midst of the global refugee crisis, Trinity Western University student Jordan Koslowsky isn’t waiting around for someone else to act.
The second-year international studies major, with the help of the TWU community, recently founded the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign (TRAC) to raise awareness of the refugees’ plight and give the broader community the opportunity to make a tangible difference for those who have suffered through years of war and strife.
In February, Koslowsky launched TRAC in partnership with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee). Their goal is to raise $34,000 to sponsor and support a refugee family. The funds raised will cover the costs of living for the family for a 12-month sponsorship period.
“With such a diverse community of caring students and alumni, TWU has huge potential to respond to this crisis,” says Koslowsky, who is also a member of the Spartans Men’s Volleyball team.
Last summer, Koslowsky was on a six-week missions trip to Israel and Palestine with Trinity Western’s Global Projects program. While there, he hiked up Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel. As he looked out over Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, he was struck by a glaring irony: the peacefulness he felt on that mountaintop was a stark contrast to the reality of the chaos in the region.
“I could see all three countries,” says Koslowsky, “and in that moment, their struggle became so clear. I felt sick as I stood there in peace, realizing there was so much chaos these people couldn’t escape from. That reality really slapped me in the face.”
That was the first of two significant moments that set him on the path to action. The second was two weeks later, when he visited a refugee camp in Bethlehem and heard stories from the people living there. “That opened my eyes and grabbed my heart,” Koslowsky says. “I knew the TWU community had the potential to do something.”
This past fall, Koslowsky began laying the groundwork for TRAC, partnering with MCC—which will act as a liason between TRAC and the Canadian government and facilitate the connection to the refugee family.
Since its launch, TRAC has already raised $15,375, nearly half of their goal, through initiatives such as TRAC Night at the Spartans men’s and women’s volleyball games in early March, and an upcoming TRAC Night with the TWU Chamber and Concert Choir on April 6 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Westminster.
Once they reach the $24,000 threshold, TRAC will be assigned a family, expected to arrive three to six months from that time.
Though the process of getting TRAC off the ground was daunting, Koslowsky and his team of fellow students kept moving forward, building support and relationships along the way. Koslowsky could have just come back from his trip and gone on with life. He simply refused to allow himself to remain idle.
“The world is a dark place. It’s easy to resign ourselves to the corruption and evil proliferating around the globe,” Koslowsky says. “But there is hope. When you recognize that, and understand that you have the ability to make a difference, your world can change. And you can change the world.”
Find out more about how you can support TRAC:
UPCOMING TRAC FUNDRAISING EVENT
TRAC Night with the TWU Chamber Choir| Date: April 6, 7:30 – 9 p.m. | Holy Trinity Cathedral, 514 Carnarvon St, New Westminster