Xenophobia forum takes simple approach to spread awareness

A Marshall University honors class is presenting a forum addressing the existence and prevention of xenophobia this month.
Marshall students Grace Behnke, Carly Riley, and Lindsay Robertson organized the event to raise awareness about an issue they said is underrepresented and misunderstood by a majority of people.
Riley said the definition of xenophobia is “the fear of something foreign” and leads to other social issues like racism and discrimination.
Activities at the forum will include a video created by Behnke, Riley and Robertson, and personal anecdotes from INTO MU students who have encountered xenophobia on campus.
This lack of xenophobia on campus is something the group credits to the INTO MU program and Intercultural Affairs, both of which have assisted in the organization of the forum.
“INTO MU and Intercultural Affairs really help that our campus is not xenophobic,” Riley said. “With conversation partners at INTO MU, you get to learn about other people and how they really aren’t different from you, they just have different cultures that you can be open to. We don’t want discrimination or racism on campus, and I think these organizations really help.”
Behnke recalled a xenophobic encounter she described as a culture shock her first day on campus.
“When I moved in freshman year, my roommate wouldn’t shake my mom’s hand because my mom is Japanese,” Behnke said.
The forum will be a conversational and open environment to learn about a topic few people regularly consider.
“It’s [going to be] more of a laid back discussion,” Robertson said, “We don’t want arguments or anything like that. It’s mostly just telling stories.”
The forum will take place 7 p.m. April 16 in room 104 of Corbly Hall.
Jared Casto can be contacted at [email protected].