full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Brian Sokol: What photos don't tell you about the refugee experience

Unscramble the Blue Letters

And looking at that photograph, I began to feel nuaeouss. I thhogut I might throw up into my screen, and maybe it was the vkoda. But I think it was actually this vast gulf, this huge disconnect between everything that I had seen and eienrpceexd over that past week and that picture that was staring back at me. There's a very siifpcec kind of photograph that is a "refugee photo." You'll know it if you've seen one, and you'll know as a photographer that you've succeeded in taking one if it looks exactly like every iconic refugee photograph that came before. These pictures are quite clear. You can usually tell one by the presence of either dust or rain. There are usually teird people carrying bundles. Sometimes there are leaky boats, and there's usually fences or coils of barbed wire. Now these pgohharopts aren't necessarily bad, in fact, they can be quite powerful. Problem is that these photographs are one sided. There is a reason that they exist. These photographs can and do posses the power to shock us into attention, to illuminate crises that might otherwise continue to be ignored. But what they did not do is challenge our beliefs and our preconceptions. If I were to look at these photographs, these photographs that I've taken, what I'd be able to tell you about refugees is that they are generally hungry and tired. And I don't know if I can tell you much more than that. I don't know if I would have any idea that refugees also get mrierad, that refugees attend btrhiday parties and refugees, yes, refugees have Facebook accounts. Now, the Western narrative of refugees, which has become the dominant, the only natvrriae of refugees, has the effect of reducing people into victims and reducing stories into mere tales of one dimensional pity and sorrow. We're spoon-fed repetitious iegams that match the stereotypes, and as the neiiargn novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says: "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are uuntre, but that they are incomplete." The United Nations, various NGO's, and the mieda also love statistics. Statistics exist for a reason. They're meant to give weight and gravity to csiris, to help us to understand. But how often do we use statistics in order to describe the things or the people that we love? Now let's say we were in this horrible, horrible pelrlaal universe, a unrviese in which you had no idea what a puppy is, and I were to explain to you what a pppuy is through statistics. So you should know that a puppy has 17 vertebrae in its tail, its shoulder height is roughly 28 cm, and the ccfereiruncme of its paws is 34.32 mm. Do you now know what a puppy is? Now compare that to just playing with a dog for 30 seconds, or reaidng the anoccut of a little girl who took her puppy to the park for the very first time, or to the snow. My point is this: that we learn not so much from data or statistics as we do from stories and experiences. And yes, in case you're wondering, that's my new puppy. (Laughter) Her name's Cabbage. She's great. The other thing that you should know about statistics is that while they're intended to quantify humanity, they usually dehumanize the people that they are entrusted with and accounting for. They already tell you that 2.1 mlioiln people over the past year have fled from sutoh Sudan across the border into Uganda - 2.1 million. Now, maybe your brain is bigger than mine and you can really conceive those nmurebs, but for me, that number gets lost. Unless I can acttah it to an actual feslh and blood human being, it really doesn't have any meaning. That's because there's a big difference between knowledge and information. And I think that what we need in oedrr to understand something of this scale, things like the refugee crisis, are not statistics; they're not numbers, but they're stories, stories of individual people. So let's go back to that tent. It's two o'clock in the mnriong, the vodka bottle is down to about a third now. I'm snttiig there plugging in captions to the really dramatic photograph that I've just captured. I'm saying there are 234,000 people that have crossed that border. And while that neumbr is completely factual, it's completely true, there's something that rings within me as dishonest about what it is that I am doing. I think it is because when I was there, the thing that was not so impressive was the scale of the number of refugees. It wasn't how many there were, it wasn't how much they were suffering. It was the fact that as I wekald around photographing day in and day out, I was followed by laughter and smlies - in this place which I had no ability to believe that would heappn - that there were children playing everywhere I went, just like anywhere else. The kids were finding little bits of sndaal and picking up sictks in order to make cars that they were driving around in the camps, or collecting discarded bits of netting in order to make soccer balls and play. And the emotion that welled up within me as I interacted with these people, it wasn't pity. It wasn't even smtpahyy. It was respect. I was aeamzd to find that this was not just a one-dimensional horror show and that these people were not just mere victims, that they were actually dignified individuals. I'd only been told one story about refugee camps beforehand, and that was one of horror. And it wasn't true, wasn't entirely true. The greater thing is that in this place where people had lost so much - people who had lost their children, lost their homes, lost their flocks, lost their fields, and were now living in tents in a feoigrn country surrounded by strangers - that not only did they mianatin their diigtny, the human heart is so big that these people have maintained the ability to love. And at this pnoit, I was quite ashamed with myself. I was amahsed of the photographs that I was taking, that were reducing these people to stereotypes, that were turning them into the exact same things that had only evoked fear and pity in me. So what did I do? I changed. I decided that rather than tlenlig the story of 234,000 nameless, faceless refugees, I would simply tell the story of one person. I'd tell it in a way that audiences around the world, regardless of what cruutle they might be from, what the color of their skin was, would be able to empathize with that person, would hopefully be able to put themselves into the shoes of a refugee for just one moment. And the idea was very, very simple: I just asked refugees to tell me their story and tell me what was the single, most important object that they brought with them when they fled from their home and their country. The project that evolved out of this is called "The most iotprmnat thing," and I'd like to share some of the stories of the people that I met with you through it. This is Dowla. I met Dowla in South Sudan. She'd fled several weeks before this from her home in the village of Gabanit after her home was bombed. Dowla was the mother of six clhdeirn, and the most important thing that she brought with her is the pole you can see draped across her shoulders with those two baskets. Sometimes she had to carry two children in each bsaket as she was walking with another one dangling from her back and then another walking beside her, as she made the 10-day journey by mountain trails. This is Leila. I met Leila in northern Iraq just as winter was beginning to come. She, her family and three other families were living in a rfseloos concrete structure. And Leila told me that the scariest thing in Syria was the voice of the tanks. "It was even more scray than the sound of the pnaels because I felt like the tanks were cmnoig spflcaeciily for me." The most important thing that Leila brought with her are the jeans that she is ciaryrng here. She says, "I went shopping with my parents and look for hours without finding anything that I liked, but when I saw these jenas, I instantly knew they were perfect because they have flowers, and I love fwroles." She'd only worn them three times in her life, all in Syria: twice at wdndiegs and one time when her gfaaredhtnr came to vsiit. She told me that she didn't want to wear them again until she attended another wedding, and she hoped that that one too would be in Syria. This is saitsbean. Sebastian was seven when his family fled Angola's War of Independence, and they crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo. That was more than 60 years ago. Sebastian told me, "I remember that it was cold and that my father gave me his jacket to keep me warm. I was wearing it as we crossed the border, and every time that I see it, even now as I'm telling you this story, I'm reminded of him and Angola. The day that we cosrs back into aongla, I will have it with me, and I will remember my father. I will wear it because I'm now a father myself. Two weeks later, Sebastian went home to Angola. But not everyone is so lukcy. Today there are 65 plus million ppeole who have been forced from their homes by war. 65 million people. That's more than during wrold War II. It's the grtseaet number at any point in recorded htsoriy. Put that in other terms, that's nearly one out of 100 people on earth. And I'd like to share one more story with you, one more story of 65 million people. This is the story of my friend Fayiz. fiyaz is a person who's not very different from any of the people in this room today, and I think that rather than me telling you about Fayiz, he should do so in his own wdors and his own voice. [The sotaituin in Syria was very complicated.] [They had killed kids.] [So just imagine yourself coming to your house, finding your kids ...] [I couldn't sleep.] [I left everything.] [My name is Fayiz. I'm from a small village in Syria.] [I'm an enslgih teacher.] [kosgeawrk rfeeuge CAMP, notrehrn IRAQ] [I didn't choose to be a refugee.] [Here in this camp I feel safe for my children] [because I know that no one will come and kill them.] [Before the cfiocnlt started in Syria,] [we were watching refugees all around the world -] [especially in Africa.] [But I never thought that I will be a refugee.] [A refugee is a person.] [He's not from here.] [His tradition is different from ours.] [A refugee, also he is a human being.] [He has friends, he has emotions,] [has everything that God gives a human being.] [A refugee is just a political name.] [We are demirang every day of our houses or the friends that we left.] [The future is cotmeellpy dyreosted for me and my wife.] [But my kids,] [in five yares maybe, we can bliud a future for them.] [And they have time to forget, to prepare themselves,] [to rbiueld, to, you know, repair.] [So their dreams,] [better to take care of their dreams.] The sitroes that you've heard tonight, this afternoon, have all been ones of war, but war isn't the only thing that drives people out of their homes. Many of the refugees around the world have fled because of who they love, have had to leave their homes and their countries because of the color of their skin or the ethnic group into which they were born. So now, in this age where fear and xenophobia can very qlkuicy morph into policy, it's more important than ever that we remember that it's not only tanks and bbmos that can force us from our homes. So the next time that you see a photograph, a dramatic one of large numbers people that are sad and carrying bundles, or the next time you hear a sroty, a very simple one full of skhncoig statistics about a group who you may not understand very well, ask for more. Think of Leila and think of Fayiz. And rmbmeeer, this isn't numbers, it's people. I'd like to leave you with a question: If you had 30 seconds before you had to run, carrying whatever you could climb out the window at the back of your house and go out into the night, perhaps never to return, what would you bring with you? What's your most important thing? Thank you. (Applause)

Open Cloze

And looking at that photograph, I began to feel ________. I _______ I might throw up into my screen, and maybe it was the _____. But I think it was actually this vast gulf, this huge disconnect between everything that I had seen and ___________ over that past week and that picture that was staring back at me. There's a very ________ kind of photograph that is a "refugee photo." You'll know it if you've seen one, and you'll know as a photographer that you've succeeded in taking one if it looks exactly like every iconic refugee photograph that came before. These pictures are quite clear. You can usually tell one by the presence of either dust or rain. There are usually _____ people carrying bundles. Sometimes there are leaky boats, and there's usually fences or coils of barbed wire. Now these ___________ aren't necessarily bad, in fact, they can be quite powerful. Problem is that these photographs are one sided. There is a reason that they exist. These photographs can and do posses the power to shock us into attention, to illuminate crises that might otherwise continue to be ignored. But what they did not do is challenge our beliefs and our preconceptions. If I were to look at these photographs, these photographs that I've taken, what I'd be able to tell you about refugees is that they are generally hungry and tired. And I don't know if I can tell you much more than that. I don't know if I would have any idea that refugees also get _______, that refugees attend ________ parties and refugees, yes, refugees have Facebook accounts. Now, the Western narrative of refugees, which has become the dominant, the only _________ of refugees, has the effect of reducing people into victims and reducing stories into mere tales of one dimensional pity and sorrow. We're spoon-fed repetitious ______ that match the stereotypes, and as the ________ novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says: "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are ______, but that they are incomplete." The United Nations, various NGO's, and the _____ also love statistics. Statistics exist for a reason. They're meant to give weight and gravity to ______, to help us to understand. But how often do we use statistics in order to describe the things or the people that we love? Now let's say we were in this horrible, horrible ________ universe, a ________ in which you had no idea what a puppy is, and I were to explain to you what a _____ is through statistics. So you should know that a puppy has 17 vertebrae in its tail, its shoulder height is roughly 28 cm, and the _____________ of its paws is 34.32 mm. Do you now know what a puppy is? Now compare that to just playing with a dog for 30 seconds, or _______ the _______ of a little girl who took her puppy to the park for the very first time, or to the snow. My point is this: that we learn not so much from data or statistics as we do from stories and experiences. And yes, in case you're wondering, that's my new puppy. (Laughter) Her name's Cabbage. She's great. The other thing that you should know about statistics is that while they're intended to quantify humanity, they usually dehumanize the people that they are entrusted with and accounting for. They already tell you that 2.1 _______ people over the past year have fled from _____ Sudan across the border into Uganda - 2.1 million. Now, maybe your brain is bigger than mine and you can really conceive those _______, but for me, that number gets lost. Unless I can ______ it to an actual _____ and blood human being, it really doesn't have any meaning. That's because there's a big difference between knowledge and information. And I think that what we need in _____ to understand something of this scale, things like the refugee crisis, are not statistics; they're not numbers, but they're stories, stories of individual people. So let's go back to that tent. It's two o'clock in the _______, the vodka bottle is down to about a third now. I'm _______ there plugging in captions to the really dramatic photograph that I've just captured. I'm saying there are 234,000 people that have crossed that border. And while that ______ is completely factual, it's completely true, there's something that rings within me as dishonest about what it is that I am doing. I think it is because when I was there, the thing that was not so impressive was the scale of the number of refugees. It wasn't how many there were, it wasn't how much they were suffering. It was the fact that as I ______ around photographing day in and day out, I was followed by laughter and ______ - in this place which I had no ability to believe that would ______ - that there were children playing everywhere I went, just like anywhere else. The kids were finding little bits of ______ and picking up ______ in order to make cars that they were driving around in the camps, or collecting discarded bits of netting in order to make soccer balls and play. And the emotion that welled up within me as I interacted with these people, it wasn't pity. It wasn't even ________. It was respect. I was ______ to find that this was not just a one-dimensional horror show and that these people were not just mere victims, that they were actually dignified individuals. I'd only been told one story about refugee camps beforehand, and that was one of horror. And it wasn't true, wasn't entirely true. The greater thing is that in this place where people had lost so much - people who had lost their children, lost their homes, lost their flocks, lost their fields, and were now living in tents in a _______ country surrounded by strangers - that not only did they ________ their _______, the human heart is so big that these people have maintained the ability to love. And at this _____, I was quite ashamed with myself. I was _______ of the photographs that I was taking, that were reducing these people to stereotypes, that were turning them into the exact same things that had only evoked fear and pity in me. So what did I do? I changed. I decided that rather than _______ the story of 234,000 nameless, faceless refugees, I would simply tell the story of one person. I'd tell it in a way that audiences around the world, regardless of what _______ they might be from, what the color of their skin was, would be able to empathize with that person, would hopefully be able to put themselves into the shoes of a refugee for just one moment. And the idea was very, very simple: I just asked refugees to tell me their story and tell me what was the single, most important object that they brought with them when they fled from their home and their country. The project that evolved out of this is called "The most _________ thing," and I'd like to share some of the stories of the people that I met with you through it. This is Dowla. I met Dowla in South Sudan. She'd fled several weeks before this from her home in the village of Gabanit after her home was bombed. Dowla was the mother of six ________, and the most important thing that she brought with her is the pole you can see draped across her shoulders with those two baskets. Sometimes she had to carry two children in each ______ as she was walking with another one dangling from her back and then another walking beside her, as she made the 10-day journey by mountain trails. This is Leila. I met Leila in northern Iraq just as winter was beginning to come. She, her family and three other families were living in a ________ concrete structure. And Leila told me that the scariest thing in Syria was the voice of the tanks. "It was even more _____ than the sound of the ______ because I felt like the tanks were ______ ____________ for me." The most important thing that Leila brought with her are the jeans that she is ________ here. She says, "I went shopping with my parents and look for hours without finding anything that I liked, but when I saw these _____, I instantly knew they were perfect because they have flowers, and I love _______." She'd only worn them three times in her life, all in Syria: twice at ________ and one time when her ___________ came to _____. She told me that she didn't want to wear them again until she attended another wedding, and she hoped that that one too would be in Syria. This is _________. Sebastian was seven when his family fled Angola's War of Independence, and they crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo. That was more than 60 years ago. Sebastian told me, "I remember that it was cold and that my father gave me his jacket to keep me warm. I was wearing it as we crossed the border, and every time that I see it, even now as I'm telling you this story, I'm reminded of him and Angola. The day that we _____ back into ______, I will have it with me, and I will remember my father. I will wear it because I'm now a father myself. Two weeks later, Sebastian went home to Angola. But not everyone is so _____. Today there are 65 plus million ______ who have been forced from their homes by war. 65 million people. That's more than during _____ War II. It's the ________ number at any point in recorded _______. Put that in other terms, that's nearly one out of 100 people on earth. And I'd like to share one more story with you, one more story of 65 million people. This is the story of my friend Fayiz. _____ is a person who's not very different from any of the people in this room today, and I think that rather than me telling you about Fayiz, he should do so in his own _____ and his own voice. [The _________ in Syria was very complicated.] [They had killed kids.] [So just imagine yourself coming to your house, finding your kids ...] [I couldn't sleep.] [I left everything.] [My name is Fayiz. I'm from a small village in Syria.] [I'm an _______ teacher.] [_________ _______ CAMP, ________ IRAQ] [I didn't choose to be a refugee.] [Here in this camp I feel safe for my children] [because I know that no one will come and kill them.] [Before the ________ started in Syria,] [we were watching refugees all around the world -] [especially in Africa.] [But I never thought that I will be a refugee.] [A refugee is a person.] [He's not from here.] [His tradition is different from ours.] [A refugee, also he is a human being.] [He has friends, he has emotions,] [has everything that God gives a human being.] [A refugee is just a political name.] [We are ________ every day of our houses or the friends that we left.] [The future is __________ _________ for me and my wife.] [But my kids,] [in five _____ maybe, we can _____ a future for them.] [And they have time to forget, to prepare themselves,] [to _______, to, you know, repair.] [So their dreams,] [better to take care of their dreams.] The _______ that you've heard tonight, this afternoon, have all been ones of war, but war isn't the only thing that drives people out of their homes. Many of the refugees around the world have fled because of who they love, have had to leave their homes and their countries because of the color of their skin or the ethnic group into which they were born. So now, in this age where fear and xenophobia can very _______ morph into policy, it's more important than ever that we remember that it's not only tanks and _____ that can force us from our homes. So the next time that you see a photograph, a dramatic one of large numbers people that are sad and carrying bundles, or the next time you hear a _____, a very simple one full of ________ statistics about a group who you may not understand very well, ask for more. Think of Leila and think of Fayiz. And ________, this isn't numbers, it's people. I'd like to leave you with a question: If you had 30 seconds before you had to run, carrying whatever you could climb out the window at the back of your house and go out into the night, perhaps never to return, what would you bring with you? What's your most important thing? Thank you. (Applause)

Solution

  1. words
  2. experienced
  3. birthday
  4. walked
  5. photographs
  6. amazed
  7. northern
  8. foreign
  9. coming
  10. carrying
  11. images
  12. dignity
  13. specifically
  14. history
  15. account
  16. numbers
  17. parallel
  18. attach
  19. puppy
  20. english
  21. sitting
  22. stories
  23. kawergosk
  24. vodka
  25. sebastian
  26. scary
  27. specific
  28. sympathy
  29. nigerian
  30. million
  31. tired
  32. number
  33. circumference
  34. grandfather
  35. jeans
  36. rebuild
  37. lucky
  38. story
  39. nauseous
  40. south
  41. basket
  42. sticks
  43. thought
  44. reading
  45. greatest
  46. weddings
  47. roofless
  48. world
  49. order
  50. important
  51. ashamed
  52. narrative
  53. point
  54. situation
  55. maintain
  56. planes
  57. completely
  58. years
  59. culture
  60. morning
  61. happen
  62. conflict
  63. telling
  64. build
  65. remember
  66. children
  67. married
  68. destroyed
  69. flesh
  70. cross
  71. universe
  72. quickly
  73. dreaming
  74. shocking
  75. crisis
  76. sandal
  77. media
  78. bombs
  79. refugee
  80. fayiz
  81. flowers
  82. untrue
  83. people
  84. angola
  85. smiles
  86. visit

Original Text

And looking at that photograph, I began to feel nauseous. I thought I might throw up into my screen, and maybe it was the vodka. But I think it was actually this vast gulf, this huge disconnect between everything that I had seen and experienced over that past week and that picture that was staring back at me. There's a very specific kind of photograph that is a "refugee photo." You'll know it if you've seen one, and you'll know as a photographer that you've succeeded in taking one if it looks exactly like every iconic refugee photograph that came before. These pictures are quite clear. You can usually tell one by the presence of either dust or rain. There are usually tired people carrying bundles. Sometimes there are leaky boats, and there's usually fences or coils of barbed wire. Now these photographs aren't necessarily bad, in fact, they can be quite powerful. Problem is that these photographs are one sided. There is a reason that they exist. These photographs can and do posses the power to shock us into attention, to illuminate crises that might otherwise continue to be ignored. But what they did not do is challenge our beliefs and our preconceptions. If I were to look at these photographs, these photographs that I've taken, what I'd be able to tell you about refugees is that they are generally hungry and tired. And I don't know if I can tell you much more than that. I don't know if I would have any idea that refugees also get married, that refugees attend birthday parties and refugees, yes, refugees have Facebook accounts. Now, the Western narrative of refugees, which has become the dominant, the only narrative of refugees, has the effect of reducing people into victims and reducing stories into mere tales of one dimensional pity and sorrow. We're spoon-fed repetitious images that match the stereotypes, and as the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says: "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete." The United Nations, various NGO's, and the media also love statistics. Statistics exist for a reason. They're meant to give weight and gravity to crisis, to help us to understand. But how often do we use statistics in order to describe the things or the people that we love? Now let's say we were in this horrible, horrible parallel universe, a universe in which you had no idea what a puppy is, and I were to explain to you what a puppy is through statistics. So you should know that a puppy has 17 vertebrae in its tail, its shoulder height is roughly 28 cm, and the circumference of its paws is 34.32 mm. Do you now know what a puppy is? Now compare that to just playing with a dog for 30 seconds, or reading the account of a little girl who took her puppy to the park for the very first time, or to the snow. My point is this: that we learn not so much from data or statistics as we do from stories and experiences. And yes, in case you're wondering, that's my new puppy. (Laughter) Her name's Cabbage. She's great. The other thing that you should know about statistics is that while they're intended to quantify humanity, they usually dehumanize the people that they are entrusted with and accounting for. They already tell you that 2.1 million people over the past year have fled from South Sudan across the border into Uganda - 2.1 million. Now, maybe your brain is bigger than mine and you can really conceive those numbers, but for me, that number gets lost. Unless I can attach it to an actual flesh and blood human being, it really doesn't have any meaning. That's because there's a big difference between knowledge and information. And I think that what we need in order to understand something of this scale, things like the refugee crisis, are not statistics; they're not numbers, but they're stories, stories of individual people. So let's go back to that tent. It's two o'clock in the morning, the vodka bottle is down to about a third now. I'm sitting there plugging in captions to the really dramatic photograph that I've just captured. I'm saying there are 234,000 people that have crossed that border. And while that number is completely factual, it's completely true, there's something that rings within me as dishonest about what it is that I am doing. I think it is because when I was there, the thing that was not so impressive was the scale of the number of refugees. It wasn't how many there were, it wasn't how much they were suffering. It was the fact that as I walked around photographing day in and day out, I was followed by laughter and smiles - in this place which I had no ability to believe that would happen - that there were children playing everywhere I went, just like anywhere else. The kids were finding little bits of sandal and picking up sticks in order to make cars that they were driving around in the camps, or collecting discarded bits of netting in order to make soccer balls and play. And the emotion that welled up within me as I interacted with these people, it wasn't pity. It wasn't even sympathy. It was respect. I was amazed to find that this was not just a one-dimensional horror show and that these people were not just mere victims, that they were actually dignified individuals. I'd only been told one story about refugee camps beforehand, and that was one of horror. And it wasn't true, wasn't entirely true. The greater thing is that in this place where people had lost so much - people who had lost their children, lost their homes, lost their flocks, lost their fields, and were now living in tents in a foreign country surrounded by strangers - that not only did they maintain their dignity, the human heart is so big that these people have maintained the ability to love. And at this point, I was quite ashamed with myself. I was ashamed of the photographs that I was taking, that were reducing these people to stereotypes, that were turning them into the exact same things that had only evoked fear and pity in me. So what did I do? I changed. I decided that rather than telling the story of 234,000 nameless, faceless refugees, I would simply tell the story of one person. I'd tell it in a way that audiences around the world, regardless of what culture they might be from, what the color of their skin was, would be able to empathize with that person, would hopefully be able to put themselves into the shoes of a refugee for just one moment. And the idea was very, very simple: I just asked refugees to tell me their story and tell me what was the single, most important object that they brought with them when they fled from their home and their country. The project that evolved out of this is called "The most important thing," and I'd like to share some of the stories of the people that I met with you through it. This is Dowla. I met Dowla in South Sudan. She'd fled several weeks before this from her home in the village of Gabanit after her home was bombed. Dowla was the mother of six children, and the most important thing that she brought with her is the pole you can see draped across her shoulders with those two baskets. Sometimes she had to carry two children in each basket as she was walking with another one dangling from her back and then another walking beside her, as she made the 10-day journey by mountain trails. This is Leila. I met Leila in northern Iraq just as winter was beginning to come. She, her family and three other families were living in a roofless concrete structure. And Leila told me that the scariest thing in Syria was the voice of the tanks. "It was even more scary than the sound of the planes because I felt like the tanks were coming specifically for me." The most important thing that Leila brought with her are the jeans that she is carrying here. She says, "I went shopping with my parents and look for hours without finding anything that I liked, but when I saw these jeans, I instantly knew they were perfect because they have flowers, and I love flowers." She'd only worn them three times in her life, all in Syria: twice at weddings and one time when her grandfather came to visit. She told me that she didn't want to wear them again until she attended another wedding, and she hoped that that one too would be in Syria. This is Sebastian. Sebastian was seven when his family fled Angola's War of Independence, and they crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo. That was more than 60 years ago. Sebastian told me, "I remember that it was cold and that my father gave me his jacket to keep me warm. I was wearing it as we crossed the border, and every time that I see it, even now as I'm telling you this story, I'm reminded of him and Angola. The day that we cross back into Angola, I will have it with me, and I will remember my father. I will wear it because I'm now a father myself. Two weeks later, Sebastian went home to Angola. But not everyone is so lucky. Today there are 65 plus million people who have been forced from their homes by war. 65 million people. That's more than during World War II. It's the greatest number at any point in recorded history. Put that in other terms, that's nearly one out of 100 people on earth. And I'd like to share one more story with you, one more story of 65 million people. This is the story of my friend Fayiz. Fayiz is a person who's not very different from any of the people in this room today, and I think that rather than me telling you about Fayiz, he should do so in his own words and his own voice. [The situation in Syria was very complicated.] [They had killed kids.] [So just imagine yourself coming to your house, finding your kids ...] [I couldn't sleep.] [I left everything.] [My name is Fayiz. I'm from a small village in Syria.] [I'm an English teacher.] [KAWERGOSK REFUGEE CAMP, NORTHERN IRAQ] [I didn't choose to be a refugee.] [Here in this camp I feel safe for my children] [because I know that no one will come and kill them.] [Before the conflict started in Syria,] [we were watching refugees all around the world -] [especially in Africa.] [But I never thought that I will be a refugee.] [A refugee is a person.] [He's not from here.] [His tradition is different from ours.] [A refugee, also he is a human being.] [He has friends, he has emotions,] [has everything that God gives a human being.] [A refugee is just a political name.] [We are dreaming every day of our houses or the friends that we left.] [The future is completely destroyed for me and my wife.] [But my kids,] [in five years maybe, we can build a future for them.] [And they have time to forget, to prepare themselves,] [to rebuild, to, you know, repair.] [So their dreams,] [better to take care of their dreams.] The stories that you've heard tonight, this afternoon, have all been ones of war, but war isn't the only thing that drives people out of their homes. Many of the refugees around the world have fled because of who they love, have had to leave their homes and their countries because of the color of their skin or the ethnic group into which they were born. So now, in this age where fear and xenophobia can very quickly morph into policy, it's more important than ever that we remember that it's not only tanks and bombs that can force us from our homes. So the next time that you see a photograph, a dramatic one of large numbers people that are sad and carrying bundles, or the next time you hear a story, a very simple one full of shocking statistics about a group who you may not understand very well, ask for more. Think of Leila and think of Fayiz. And remember, this isn't numbers, it's people. I'd like to leave you with a question: If you had 30 seconds before you had to run, carrying whatever you could climb out the window at the back of your house and go out into the night, perhaps never to return, what would you bring with you? What's your most important thing? Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
million people 4
south sudan 2

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. account
  3. accounting
  4. accounts
  5. actual
  6. adichie
  7. africa
  8. afternoon
  9. age
  10. amazed
  11. angola
  12. applause
  13. ashamed
  14. asked
  15. attach
  16. attend
  17. attended
  18. attention
  19. audiences
  20. bad
  21. balls
  22. barbed
  23. basket
  24. baskets
  25. began
  26. beginning
  27. beliefs
  28. big
  29. bigger
  30. birthday
  31. bits
  32. blood
  33. boats
  34. bombed
  35. bombs
  36. border
  37. born
  38. bottle
  39. brain
  40. bring
  41. brought
  42. build
  43. bundles
  44. cabbage
  45. called
  46. camp
  47. camps
  48. captions
  49. captured
  50. care
  51. carry
  52. carrying
  53. cars
  54. case
  55. challenge
  56. changed
  57. children
  58. chimamanda
  59. choose
  60. circumference
  61. clear
  62. climb
  63. cm
  64. coils
  65. cold
  66. collecting
  67. color
  68. coming
  69. compare
  70. completely
  71. complicated
  72. conceive
  73. concrete
  74. conflict
  75. congo
  76. continue
  77. countries
  78. country
  79. crises
  80. crisis
  81. cross
  82. crossed
  83. culture
  84. dangling
  85. data
  86. day
  87. decided
  88. dehumanize
  89. democratic
  90. describe
  91. destroyed
  92. difference
  93. dignified
  94. dignity
  95. dimensional
  96. discarded
  97. disconnect
  98. dishonest
  99. dog
  100. dominant
  101. dowla
  102. dramatic
  103. draped
  104. dreaming
  105. dreams
  106. drives
  107. driving
  108. dust
  109. earth
  110. effect
  111. emotion
  112. emotions
  113. empathize
  114. english
  115. entrusted
  116. ethnic
  117. evoked
  118. evolved
  119. exact
  120. exist
  121. experienced
  122. experiences
  123. explain
  124. facebook
  125. faceless
  126. fact
  127. factual
  128. families
  129. family
  130. father
  131. fayiz
  132. fear
  133. feel
  134. felt
  135. fences
  136. fields
  137. find
  138. finding
  139. fled
  140. flesh
  141. flocks
  142. flowers
  143. force
  144. forced
  145. foreign
  146. forget
  147. friend
  148. friends
  149. full
  150. future
  151. gabanit
  152. gave
  153. generally
  154. girl
  155. give
  156. god
  157. grandfather
  158. gravity
  159. great
  160. greater
  161. greatest
  162. group
  163. gulf
  164. happen
  165. hear
  166. heard
  167. heart
  168. height
  169. history
  170. home
  171. homes
  172. hoped
  173. horrible
  174. horror
  175. hours
  176. house
  177. houses
  178. huge
  179. human
  180. humanity
  181. hungry
  182. iconic
  183. idea
  184. ii
  185. illuminate
  186. images
  187. imagine
  188. important
  189. impressive
  190. incomplete
  191. independence
  192. individual
  193. individuals
  194. information
  195. instantly
  196. intended
  197. interacted
  198. iraq
  199. jacket
  200. jeans
  201. journey
  202. kawergosk
  203. kids
  204. kill
  205. killed
  206. kind
  207. knew
  208. knowledge
  209. large
  210. laughter
  211. leaky
  212. learn
  213. leave
  214. left
  215. leila
  216. life
  217. living
  218. lost
  219. love
  220. lucky
  221. maintain
  222. maintained
  223. married
  224. match
  225. meaning
  226. meant
  227. media
  228. mere
  229. met
  230. million
  231. mm
  232. moment
  233. morning
  234. morph
  235. mother
  236. mountain
  237. nameless
  238. narrative
  239. nations
  240. nauseous
  241. necessarily
  242. netting
  243. ngozi
  244. nigerian
  245. night
  246. northern
  247. novelist
  248. number
  249. numbers
  250. object
  251. order
  252. parallel
  253. parents
  254. park
  255. parties
  256. paws
  257. people
  258. perfect
  259. person
  260. photo
  261. photograph
  262. photographer
  263. photographing
  264. photographs
  265. picking
  266. picture
  267. pictures
  268. pity
  269. place
  270. planes
  271. play
  272. playing
  273. plugging
  274. point
  275. pole
  276. policy
  277. political
  278. posses
  279. power
  280. powerful
  281. preconceptions
  282. prepare
  283. presence
  284. problem
  285. project
  286. puppy
  287. put
  288. quantify
  289. quickly
  290. rain
  291. reading
  292. reason
  293. rebuild
  294. recorded
  295. reducing
  296. refugee
  297. refugees
  298. remember
  299. reminded
  300. repair
  301. repetitious
  302. republic
  303. respect
  304. return
  305. rings
  306. roofless
  307. room
  308. roughly
  309. run
  310. sad
  311. safe
  312. sandal
  313. scale
  314. scariest
  315. scary
  316. screen
  317. sebastian
  318. seconds
  319. share
  320. shock
  321. shocking
  322. shoes
  323. shopping
  324. shoulder
  325. shoulders
  326. show
  327. sided
  328. simple
  329. simply
  330. single
  331. sitting
  332. situation
  333. skin
  334. sleep
  335. small
  336. smiles
  337. snow
  338. soccer
  339. sorrow
  340. sound
  341. south
  342. specific
  343. specifically
  344. staring
  345. started
  346. statistics
  347. stereotypes
  348. sticks
  349. stories
  350. story
  351. strangers
  352. structure
  353. succeeded
  354. sudan
  355. suffering
  356. surrounded
  357. sympathy
  358. syria
  359. tail
  360. tales
  361. tanks
  362. teacher
  363. telling
  364. tent
  365. tents
  366. terms
  367. thought
  368. throw
  369. time
  370. times
  371. tired
  372. today
  373. told
  374. tonight
  375. tradition
  376. trails
  377. true
  378. turning
  379. uganda
  380. understand
  381. united
  382. universe
  383. untrue
  384. vast
  385. vertebrae
  386. victims
  387. village
  388. visit
  389. vodka
  390. voice
  391. walked
  392. walking
  393. war
  394. warm
  395. watching
  396. wear
  397. wearing
  398. wedding
  399. weddings
  400. week
  401. weeks
  402. weight
  403. welled
  404. western
  405. wife
  406. window
  407. winter
  408. wire
  409. wondering
  410. words
  411. world
  412. worn
  413. xenophobia
  414. year
  415. years