Arts and Culture Editor
Soaring high above the entrance to New York City is our friend we all know and love, Lady Liberty, who transcends as an image of freedom and of hope for all those who enter. Inscribed on the pedestal upon which Lady Liberty strongly stands reads a poem written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 titled “The New Colossus”. In her poem, Lazarus describes Lady Liberty as the “Mother of Exiles”. She writes “Give me your tired, your poor…send these to me”. Lazarus emphasized the fact that the United States of America belonged to all. Those seeking shelter and a better life could finally find refuge here in America…right?
Looking around at America today, it doesn’t seem like the welcoming place Lazarus once admired. From President Trump’s recent travel ban making it difficult for refugees to enter the country to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement team cracking down on undocumented immigrants much more the past couple of weeks, Lazarus’ vision is becoming harder and harder to see. Unfortunately, that vision is needed now more than ever. According to World Vision, 13.5 million Syrians need assistance and refuge due to the Syrian War that is violently affecting the country. Currently, 4.9 million Syrians are refugees and even more are displaced within Syria.
Luckily, Millersville can take comfort in knowing that as a part of Lancaster County, it’s also “America’s Refugee Capital”, according to BBC News. Since 2013, Lancaster has taken in 1,300 refugees and has been resettling more refugees than the rest of the country. One of the groups that help make this a reality is Church World Service (CWS). Located in Lancaster City, this organization was able to bring 286 refugees into Lancaster City in 2015. CWS helps resettle refugees from the countries of Somalia, Burma/Myanmar, Bhutan, Congo, Iraq, Cuba, and many more.
This April, the All-Campus Musical Organization (ACMO) and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences presents a benefit concert titled “The New Colossus Concert”, inspired by Lazarus’ poem. Singers, dancers, musicians and poets will perform. Refugees will also give their own personal testimonies. All proceeds for this concert go directly to Church World Service and asylum-seekers.An event similar to the “The New Colossus Concert” was held on January 29th at Tellus360 in Lancaster City. This event raised $30,000 that went directly to CWS. Tickets are on sale now and are pay by donation.
ACMO performs a benefit concert each year that normally supports local music organizations around the county. This year, however, Phil Romansky, director of “The New Colossus Concert” wanted to do something different. “I read [Lazarus’ poem] and was inspired to support the Syrian Refugee Crisis through my benefit. That’s when I found out about Church World Services, and named them our concert beneficiary,” says Romansky.
“The New Colossus Concert” is part of a bigger conversation at Millersville titled “How We Got Here”, an effort to open up discussion about immigration and refugee issues, and is happening on campus until April 30th. The concert may be the last event of “How We Got Here”, but the discussion will only continue. “ ‘The New Colossus’ is a platform to begin the conversation about immigration. PASSHE requires Millersville to turn away students who are not United States citizens, even if they were previously enrolled on campus. By attending this event, students will be directly contributing toward helping real people immigrate to the United States,” says Romansky.
“The New Colossus Concert” will be held on Sunday, April 30th at 7p.m. in Clair Performance Hall in the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center. Preshow entertainment will begin at 6p.m. and includes a mock immigration checkpoint and the “Invisible Americans” art exhibit. Purchase your tickets at the Ticket Office located across from the Galley or online at http://www.studentservicesinc.com/ticket-sales/. Interested in helping or want more information? Contact Ana Sica, President of ACMO or Phil Romansky, the Benefit Director. As Romansky says, “say yes to an inclusive Millersville.”