The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Speaker talks to students about Iraq

Josh Jones, Staff Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sister Marceline Koch, a Dominican Sister of Springfield, spoke about refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq and the efforts made by her and many others to help those

Sister Marceline Koch, a nun from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, discusses her experiences helping refugees and displaced people due to ISIS Wednesday in the auditorium of Lumpkin Hall.

Olivia S. Diggs
Sister Marceline Koch, a nun from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, discusses her experiences helping refugees and displaced people due to ISIS Wednesday in the auditorium of Lumpkin Hall.

who have lost their home Wednesday in the Lumpkin Auditorium.

Refugees are people who are forced to leave and flee their country of origin, and IDPs are those displaced in their own country.

The night started with an introduction by Edmund Wehrle, a history professor, who gave a history lesson of Iraq and what led up to the events that have occurred today. These events include elections, power seizures and the formation of ISIS.

“About seventy five percent, millions upon millions, of refugees are women and children,” Wehrle said.

Koch went behind the podium as she began to speak about her experience in Iraq.

“I am really eager to share with you and to share the story that I have, my experience is just one experience, but I think it will give you a flavor of the region as well,” Koch said.

As Koch continued with her presentation she told tales of the struggles of those who had been displaced.

Each story told tales of hardship for those displaced, from a pharmacist that lost his business, to children who are unable to go to school because the country that their family had fled to spoke a different language from their own.

She did not only tell tales of those who were forced to leave their homes; Koch sought to educate those in the auditorium on geography and key terms used.

The living situations are not easy for those who were forced to leave, and move into tents and later metal sheds known as caravans, with concrete floors and limited electricity.

Many of the displaced were Christians that were told that if they converted to Islam they would be able to stay.

Koch said that we should not lump one group of people with everyone else.

“”We need to remember that we cannot label one group in all of this as we look at the issue,” Koch said.

Koch also covered Christianity in Iraq and the deep tradition held for those who were forced to flee.

“Christianity is very ancient in Iraq. These are Syrian people and it goes back a long time, in Mosul in June was the first time in 1,600 years that a Catholic mass was not celebrated,” Koch said.

Another question that the refugees must face is that they may never be able to return home.  For some, moving to another country such as the United States is not an option.

Andrew Baker, a senior political science major, talked about the bigger picture that Koch presented.

“We happen to think that the whole Middle East supports ISIS, but it is great to know that there are people out there that do not support ISIS,” Baker said

Nathaniel Ed, a graduate student, shared his reaction.

“It’s very hard. I am Catholic and I feel that a lot of people that are being displaced are my people,” Ed said.

Wehrle said he thought the talk was extremely informative.

“It brought a really a fascinating glimpse into the refugee situation, we learned about the refugee situation in Iraq on a very personal level,” Wehrle said.

After her presentation, Koch said felt her audience was open to her messages.

“What I sensed in the group was that there was a openness to understand,” Koch said.

Josh Jones can be reached at 581-2812 or jljones8@eiu.edu.

Leave a Comment

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Speaker talks to students about Iraq