Refugee and Immigrant Student Education holds spoken word festival

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The Yale student group RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Student Education) hosted its second annual spoken word festival on March 2.

RISE, formerly known as Students of Salaam, started in January of 2016 and works towards a mission of inclusion and support for New Haven’s immigrant and refugee, through several different program initiatives including in home and in-school mentorship.

The event, which drew a crowd to the Davenport theater despite the inclement weather situation, featured performances centered around questions of identity and the experience of immigrants and refugees living in the United States.

“Hosting RISE’s second annual spoken word festival was a great opportunity to bring together people of extremely diverse backgrounds to share their ideas and experiences in an open forum,” Malak Nasr, co-president of RISE, said.“After the success of the first event, we were keen to bring it back for a second year and show the multitude of voices by having a speaker from NYU, Yale spoken word groups as well as our own students from within RISE.”

That speaker is Khalid Abu Dawas, a Palestinian-American second-year at NYU from San Diego, California who is well known in the collegiate slam poetry world; last year he won co-champion as a part of NYU’s team at the 2017 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Khalid shared several pieces with the audience on Friday, including a powerful reaction piece to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as well as a personal piece about his grandfather.

Yale’s own performers, Isaak Cueno Reyes from Voke, and Fernando Rojas with Word, both delivered similarly impactful performances. All pieces offered an interplay between English and Spanish or Arabic, which added elements of authenticity as well as defiance against the despotism of “American” culture.