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Senior’s Literature Review Prompted by Xenophobia and the Healing Power of Art

Published: January 08, 2019

Nejat Nassir ’19 grew up listening to stories about immigrants who have faced social injustice. As an immigrant herself, this hits home for her. She has spoken out about these issues and says every human being should be treated with respect and empathy.

European Refugee Crisis and Expressive Arts
“I come from a minority background as a Muslim American, and the transition to coming to a new country where the language and culture is completely different was hard at times,” said Nejat Nassir ’19. “I chose to write about this topic, because art is a really powerful tool that helps connect people, no matter what cultural background one comes from.”

Nassir, a nursing major who is also in the Honors Program, was excited to find out that her literary review, which she wrote in the spring of 2018, was recently published in the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) Newsletter. The review, titled “European Refugee Crisis and Expressive Arts,” was written for her honors tutorial project in the course Expressive Arts in Healing: Health Promotion Through the Arts, which focuses on the creative expression for self-care in professional practice and helps to provide stress relief through creativity.

According to Nassir, the article is about European refugees and the type of challenges many face in their transition to Europe, but also how modalities of art, like dance, artwork and music, can help ease this transition.

“I come from a minority background as a Muslim American, and the transition to coming to a new country where the language and culture is completely different was hard at times,” said Nassir. “I chose to write about this topic, because art is a really powerful tool that helps connect people, no matter what cultural background one comes from.”

Julia Riley, adjunct professor in the Department of Nursing, said she helped Nassir focus her honors project on something that was of meaning to her and her life experiences. With Nassir’s permission, Riley submitted a summary of her work to the International Association of Expressive Arts Therapy.

“Currently, Nejat sees herself in pediatric nursing and her passion and focus will guide her in whatever nursing specialty she pursues,” said Riley

For Nassir, the Honors Program at UT has benefitted her in ways she never imagined. Many of the guest speakers the program has brought in have presented on social justice and modern politics. These speakers have influenced Nassir and made it easier to speak about certain topics.

“The honors tutorials are not just for the sake of doing them, they have helped me to learn so much more and to apply my knowledge in the real world,” said Nassir. “The Honors Program has also helped me to see the gap in our community and overall has made me much more well-rounded.”



Story by Sydney Rhodes ’21, journalism major