Skyline – An Interview with Ariel Zbeda

Brimming with compassion and utmost humanity, ARIEL comes from the concrete jungles where dreams are made of, New York City.

As a student ambassador to Letters of Love and as a civilian belonging to the privilege section of the society she seeks help from her fellow citizens of the world to make a difference to the ones in crises in every way they can, rubbishing differences by nationality and borders.

‘Let’s bring change’ she says.

Q1. How would you best describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a bubbly high school student who is passionate about making a difference and obsessed with sushi.

 

Q2. When did you first become aware of the Syrian situation?

I remember listening to the radio in 5th grade and hearing about the escalating conflict in Syria. At that age, I relentlessly asked my mother about the conflict and the people of Syria. When she ran out of answers I was bothered by a feeling of helplessness.

 

Q3. Could you tell us about your first rendezvous with Letters of Love?

I first heard about Letters of Love through a summer camp in Maine called ‘Seeds of Peace’. ‘Seeds of Peace’ brought together young people belonging to different sides of conflict zones, and I participated in the dialogue sessions between Palestinians and Israelis. Dialogue aided me get a sense of understanding with everyone I had a conversation with and helped me to discover the common thread of humanity running through everyone irrespective of their nationality or origin. The moment I saw the promo for letters of love and the wonderful smiles on each child’s face I was immediately intrigued and I was sure to get involved into the project.

 

Q4.  Under the aegis of Letters of Love, what is the kind of work you have undertaken until now?

I live in New York City and I study at Beacon High School. ’Letters of Love’ inspired me to hold an event at my school were we learned about the situation in Syria and what it means to be a refugee.We also wrote our own New Year’s Cards and held discussions on the contributions we can make to bring a difference to the ongoing global crises and the people involved in it.

 

Q5. What specifically prompted you to take action?

During summer at the ‘Seeds of Peace’ Camp, I met a boy of my age who grew up in Gaza. Paying attention to his experiences had a tremendous impact on the way I perceived the people who grew up in conflict zones. His intelligence, light-hearted humour and incredible kindness opened my eyes, literally. He motivated me to make a difference in any possible way, because I know that any little boy or girl suffering in Syria or elsewhere could be just like my dear friend. If we let go of our geographicalborders, the imaginary lines on the sand we’re all human beings. In that sense, we have a moral obligation to try to take action in anyway that we can to help those who are suffering.

   

 

Q6. Why do you think it’s important for persons of all ages living in peaceful and privileged societies to be aware of the crisis in Syria and other conflict areas?

Instead of tackling global crises- head on, people living in privileged societies avoid conflict as a coping mechanism.  However, we cannot avoid the suffering of others and if we come from a position of privilege we must use that essence to contribute in every way we can. To be clear, I don't think we can solve all the world's problems tomorrow but I think we should and can do our best to make any kind of difference. It is easy to feel helpless, but I believe we must push through the hardship and guilt and really do our best to make a difference, no matter how petite.

Just because we are separated by distance that doesn’t mean they are less human than we are. People belonging to privileged societies must use their resources to help those in need.  We must also comprehend that civilians residing in places of conflict are not to be blamed for crises. It is also important that we remain empathetic and compassionate to those facing fundamental challenges every single day of their life..

 

Q7.  What do you think are the moral obligations of a civil society when societies in other parts of the world are facing crises of this magnitude?

Borders were created by us. But a line on the sand or the map doesn’t change the fact that people are suffering and doesn’t rule out the idea of being for each other.  I don't think we in good conscious can watch children, families die without taking action. When one comes from a place of privilege they must amplify their abilities and use it for the greater good.

 

Q8. If you had to give a message to the leaders of the world, what would it be?

I think I would remind the leaders of the world that people are not pawns and human lives are not games. Every life matters and we must treat everyone with the same respect and basic decency. I would also probably stress on the importance of confronting global warming- a very real threat to our existence. I would instil the golden rule that many of us learn in kindergarten, “Do on to others as you want done to you”.

 

Q9.  What would be your message of love to fellow citizens of the world?

My message of love is to look at the world, ‘not as what it is but, as what you want it to be’. Pick a thing that you would like to change and then do your best to change it.