Photo Courtesy of Caleb Scott
Pepperdine junior Caleb Scott, Spiritual Life Adviser of Eaton, was not in Malibu at all during the beginning of the semester. Rather than reading through syllabi Scott extended his winter break to participate in a trip to Lesbos, Greece, led by the International Surf Lifesaving Association, to provide support for victims of the Syrian refugee crisis migrating from Turkey to Lesbos.
Scott explained that the central mission of the trip was to welcome refugees, helping cater to their immediate needs.
“We were helping to bring in refugee boats,” he said. “Depending on the day, there were a lot of boats or not a lot of boats, but every day there were refugees coming in. The lifeguards made sure people weren’t jumping out.”
Scott, who has been a lifeguard for four years, has the experience necessary to participate in a trip working with a team of Greek guards and others from around the world.
“I’ve seen opportunities for different trips before,” Scott said. “I am interested in this conflict and the Middle East. I spent a little over five weeks this summer working with Syrian refugees in Jordan. I got to be part of the process as they were getting out of Syria and now as they’re getting into Europe.”
He said he worked on the shore, so his main tasks involved getting the refugees blankets, directing the boats and determining any way he could provide assistance to the exhausted migrants.
Scott said that although the distance between Turkey and Lesbos is shorter than the distance between Catalina Island and Malibu, many of the refugees do not know how to steer the boat, creating complications along the journey.
“The boats are over-packed — different sizes — but most of them are smaller, black rubber boats that take on water fast,” he said. “They will either die or the coast guard will come get them.”
When the refugees finally reach their destination, they are transported via shuttle to a refugee camp in Moria, less than an hour drive away from Lesbos.
Not all of the refugees are allowed to stay in Greece, however. Only the Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans can register as refugees, while those migrating from any other country, are sent back. Scott said that walking along the beach, he found passports from various countries, as many individuals attempt to abandon their nationality in order to stay.
Scott said there was a wide range of nationalities and emotions displayed in the refugees.
“People were excited, clapping and whooping because they had finally arrived in Europe after a long journey. Some were so panicked and scared, [there were] grown men crying, babies crying and women yelling,” he said. “They are not necessarily speaking the same language, because they come from all over the Middle East and North Africa.”
Scott explained that the trip was emotionally trying.
“It is emotional being there and seeing them,” he said. “It’s one thing to read something on the news and say, ‘That sucks,’ but it’s another thing to be there and see a man crying as he is holding his baby.”
Scott, a 21-year-old International Studies major from Laguna Beach, California, said that he has been interested in travel and global politics since high school. He explained that he would like to work for a Christian nonprofit or humanitarian organization.
This summer he is interning for Horizons International — an organization that works to spread the Christian Gospel message to Muslims, according to its website, http://www.horizonsinternational.org/.
Scott said that the trip had an incredible impact on him, and he would have stayed longer if school were not in session.
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