Online Program

Language of Laughter (Work-in-progress)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:20 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Srdjan Stakic, EdD, MA, MFA, Kintsugi Productions, Los Angeles, CA
M. Reilly Dowd, M. Reilly Productions, Cohasset, MA
Heading into the fourth year of Syria’s civil war, there are over three million refuges. The international community has spent billions of dollars—and pledged hundreds of millions more—to aid neighboring countries struggling with what the U.N. calls the world’s “most dramatic humanitarian crisis.”

But here’s the reality: Money can provide food, water, educational programs, textbooks, even iPads, but it can’t bring happiness. The emotional scars run deep. Lost homes. Destroyed communities. Killed and missing loved ones.

The ongoing conflict poses an all too familiar question for terrorists and aid workers alike: Who will win the hearts and minds of this next generation? 

The film takes place in Jordan on the doorstep of a battlefield. The already strained kingdom is now home to 650,000+ Syrian refugees. More than half of them are children. Some have gone numb. Others have become aggressive. Some look normal. But their hardship doesn’t end at Jordan’s border. For many, camps have become synonymous with home. While they are provided with basic needs, they are essentially imprisoned in dusty, sprawling tents, most of which lack any color or memories from the life they once knew.

It doesn’t appear to be a time for laughter. But it is. More than ever.

Enter a team of clowns trained in crisis-intervention. Masters of improvisation and spontaneous play, the clowns provide a unique kind of therapy. Their power is in their ability to somehow break through.

A young woman from the EU, not only performs for the refugees, but also trains them to become clowns themselves. Telling the story through the eyes of a young Syrian refugee, and the clown from Europe, both of whom want laughter to replace their pain, will bring a personal perspective to the global conversation, one that often overlooks the beauty of humanity amidst the collateral damage of war, a conversation about wellbeing and mental health in disaster situations.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the current state in which Syrian refugees live Contrast and compare lives of young women from European Union and from the Middle East Demonstrate the impact of laughter on immediate wellbeing of people who have experienced trauma in diverse settings Discuss cultural approaches to laughter and wellbeing Analyze possible long-term effects of laughter on people who have experienced trauma

Keyword(s): Communication and informatics, Social and behavioral sciences

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: While completing his doctorate in health education at Columbia, Srdjan was recruited by the UN to work on using media for social development. He oversaw programming globally bridging education and entertainment. Upon receiving an MFA from USC, Srdjan produced his first feature film (executive produced with Justin Lin [Fast & Furious]) "Yellow Face", based on a Pulitzer nominated play by David Hwang, winning the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at LA Asian Pacific FilmFestival.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.