“Salam Neighbor” Gets Students Thinking, Talking and Acting

Chris Temple, Living on One, and Gabe Pena, President of the CAS-CASC Student Advisory Board

Members of the CAS-CASC Student Advisory Board with Chris Temple and CAS Executive Director Karissa Niehoff.
From left to right: Sachi Patel (North Haven HS), Dylan Madden (WF Kaynor Technical HS) Chris Temple (Living on One), Gabe Pena (WF Kaynor Technical HS), Aiden Coyle (North Haven HS), Samantha Plourde (WF Kaynor Technical HS),
Dr. Karissa Niehoff (CAS)

On March 10th, while many were deep into March Madness, 200 students, teachers, administrators and CASC Student Advisory Board members turned their attention towards Syria and got a glimpse into the experience of living in a refugee camp. They attended a screening of the film “Salam Neighbor” and a discussion with one of the film makers and founders of Living on One, Chris Temple, held at Goodwin College. Introducing the film, Chris underscored the urgency and nature of the crisis,

“This is a critical moment, with more refugees today than any time in the last century,” said Chris. “In Syria alone, more than 4 million people have fled the country to escape the atrocities of war. Right now, we are at risk of losing a generation of youth, destabilizing the region, and perpetuating a cycle of violence and poverty.”

In an effort to better understand refugee life,
Chris and his Living on One colleague, Zach Ingrasci, spent one month this winter living alongside displaced families in the Za’atari refugee camp. As the first filmmakers ever allowed by the United Nations to be given a tent and registered inside a refugee camp, they were able to get a never before seen look into the world’s most pressing crisis.

“Our experience uncovered overwhelming trauma but also the untapped potential our uprooted neighbors possess,” explained Chris. “With the right programs we can support healing, ease the burden on host countries and even empower the disenfranchised by unleashing people’s creativity.”

Through their company, Living on One, Chris and Zach use immersive storytelling to create films, television series, and educational content combined with targeted social impact campaigns to inspire action around pressing global issues.
By engaging a young and social media savvy audience, they have been able to create unprecedented awareness for important issues ignored by mainstream media. On all their films, they work with the best humanitarian organizations in the sector to provide opportunities for our audience to easily make a difference.

Students are already responding to the call to action. They are engaging in dialogue, sharing with friends and family what they learned from the film and formulating strategies they can undertake to spread awareness, to contribute financially and to develop programs in their home schools and communities. One impressive idea from a student will work on ways to ease the transition for refugees and other students displaced and arriving in a new country for a variety of reasons. As their action plans solidify and come into effect, CAS will follow their progress and provide ways for others to get involved. CAS and selected teachers will be working this summer to develop curriculum content to be paired with the film “Salam Neighbor” for use in schools.

Written by Jennifer Buckley, Assistant Director of Student Activities