These women's lives are like a Greek tragedy. So they took it to the stage and found strength.

"I feel that Antigone resembles me a lot. A lot," says one of them.

Last winter, some theater artists from Aperta Productions decided to produce a play. Their actors? Syrian refugee women.

The project began as a way to give the women a chance to get out of their usual daily lives in refugee camps, but it became much more.

The women selected the ancient Greek play "Antigone" to work on.

It is the tragic story of a woman who fights against a tyrannical king for the right to give her brother a proper burial. Although the play is nearly 2,500 years old, these 21st century women saw themselves in Antigone's story.


Image from Aperta Productions.

In an eight-week workshop, the women explored the text and shared the parallels between their own lives and Antigone's. The workshops culminated in performances in Beirut in December 2014. The ultimate production was a combination of the women's real-life stories and the ancient text.

It's a terrible thing to look at a Greek tragedy, written to embody a community's sadness and sin, and see your own life.

In her review of the play for "Arab Review," Sophia Smith Galer describes one such connection:

"The most horrific parallel between Antigone and any of the characters belongs to the narrator, Mona, who lost her son to Leukaemia and was unable to give him a proper burial: 'His grave is still without a stone.' Sharing Antigone's anguish at not seeing her loved one properly buried, Mona, however, relented to the power of the state and was forced out of Syria. She spoke of her guilt but then asked the most important question of the play: 'Would Antigone have done the same had she had children of her own? We are not the daughters of kings. We are ordinary people.'"


Image from Aperta Productions.

Rasha, an actor from Aleppo, also connects with the themes of sadness and oppression and the hopelessness of a Greek tragedy. She writes, "We live in sadness and how long the sadness will last I don't know. We're not happy. In Syria we were afraid of the bombings and shootings, we came here and we're oppressed."

But the project has given the women real strength.

To make this possible for the women, Aperta provided nursery care for the children and a stipend for the actors. This money itself was empowering.

"This theatre project has given me a sense of empowerment. I feel strong," writes Zena. "My husband says, 'You're a woman, you shouldn't go out, you have to stay home.' But now I am the one who is working, it's not just him who goes out, and talks and has fun; now I can too. I can do even more than him in fact."

Another actor, Mona, writes, "I hope to give the world a different opinion of Syrian refugees. There are those of us who are cultured and educated ... We wear hijabs and can be on stage and do anything. Our hijabs don't trap our minds."

"Our hijabs don't trap our minds." — Mona

To learn more about the project and hear from other women who found artistry and empowerment through it, check out the video below.


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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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