Students touched by the human side of asylum seeker debate

CHANGING PERSPECTIVES: Author Robin de Crespigny talks to Orange High School students about what she learnt from writing a book based on the life of an asylum seeker.
 Photo: NICOLE KUTER 0729nkrobin1

CHANGING PERSPECTIVES: Author Robin de Crespigny talks to Orange High School students about what she learnt from writing a book based on the life of an asylum seeker. Photo: NICOLE KUTER 0729nkrobin1

THERE'S always two sides to a story.

Orange High School students Brock Zylstra and Josh Whitton were awestruck by a true story of persecution, told by a renowned author, so much so they changed their perspective of what they thought about the terms “boat people” and “people smugglers”.

“The media portrays them in one way but it gives you a different view hearing it from the other side,” Brock said after he listened to a presentation from author Robin de Crespigny.

Ms de Crespigny spent three years with asylum seeker Ali Al Jenabi, who fled Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers. She wrote his story and called it The People Smuggler.

The presentation was held at Orange High School as part of a tour around the central west organised by Amnesty International. 

Year 11 student Josh said more presentations of a similar nature should be made more readily available to people because too often the media was biased in its reporting of the issue.

He said mainstream media rarely reported on the torment asylum seekers had suffered before they left their country. 

“Hearing the story, you don’t often see what people have come from or see their side of the story,” he said.

“Often they're just referred to as numbers.”

The talk was opened up to 60 students who studied society and culture or legal studies. 

Teacher Adam Gray said he believed the talk made the students appreciate what opportunities they had because Ali Al Jenabi’s story was a stark contrast to their own situations. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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