Mar 6, 2017
Ruth Wells works with Syrian refugees in a psychosocial organisation in Gaziantep, a town in the south-east of Turkey, 50km north of the Syrian border. Most of her colleagues are Muslim and wear the hijab.
As a non-Muslim Australian woman, Ruth reflects non-judgementally on what it is like being in a context where “gender is a little bit different to what I’m used to and what that has meant about what role I get assigned in those contexts.”
Constructs of gender, sexuality, religion, power and the body emerge from this story. So does a surprising amount of laughter, despite our awareness of the backdrop, which is the horrors being perpetrated against Syrians.
Ruth reflects on the importance of admitting that you don’t know, and of seeking the meaning in someone else's life.
“I feel like the work that I do, because it’s outside my own culture, there’s a danger of it being kind of potentially paternalistic or judgmental or whatever. So I feel like I need to have this other current that runs the other way which is about watching and observing and appreciating and trying to find the things there that are valuable to people, because surely, that’s what people are building their lives on, the things that they value.”