“Authenticity” is a word that frequently pops up in conversation with ASU freshman Selena Morse.
She is the co-author of the new book “Dear Tariq,” which began as a project at Concordia International School Shanghai with classmate Geo Chen.
The story behind “Dear Tariq” is inspiring. Chen and Morse collaborated with Jordan Hattar of Help4Refugees.org and young humanitarian rights activist Alex Myteberi. During their meetings, Morse and Chen learned about Myteberi’s story and were inspired by his empathy. Myteberi penned a letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to help a Syrian boy named Omran Dagneesh, who survived an airstrike in his home country.
Myteberi’s story and compassion moved Chen and Morse to write the children’s book.
“‘Dear Tariq’ was a collaborative effort with a variety of people,” she says. “It was mostly all youth, and that was very intentional. The co-author (Geo Chen) and I started on the book our junior year of high school.”
The book tells the story of two children — one living affluently in the United States and another facing the reality of the Syrian conflict and refugee situations that many experience around the world.
The American boy is moved by the Syrian child’s life and reaches out.
“He develops a sense of empathy and turns that into support for his brothers and sisters in Syria by developing relationships with them,” Morse says.
They become friends through letter writing.
“It’s a story of turning compassion into action and how kids can make a change in the world with the resources they have,” Morse says.
The group’s mission is simple. They want to change the perspective of refugees, encourage people to share their stories, and teach young kids about the importance of empathy.
The proceeds will also be going to Sirin Hamada and other refugee families.
“After we got in contact with her, we moved forward with having the book published. Having her involved added another level of authenticity and accurate representation,” Morse says of Hamada’s involvement on the project.
Available on Amazon, “Dear Tariq” is much bigger than just a book, it’s a unique collaboration of youth advocacy. Working with other students, Morse continues to help raise awareness, empathy and compassion around the Syrian refugee crisis.
“I’m looking forward to where the future takes this,” she says.
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