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Local educator and humanitarian teaches about trauma informed care at ETSU lecture

Brandon Paykamian • Sep 5, 2018 at 7:36 PM

Dr. Meira Yasin, an assistant professor in the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing, has learned a lot about trauma-informed care through her humanitarian work throughout the world. 

Her work has brought her to places such as Jordan and Palestine, where she helped Palestinian refugees coping with the various medical and mental health challenges that have come as a result of the Israeli Defense Force’s ongoing siege against Gaza and occupation of the West Bank.

“I was working with the community to figure out what their needs were. The common theme throughout all of this is that there’s a lack of available mental health care services,” she said of the displaced refugees in Jordan and Palestinians living in Gaza.

“In Jordan, it’s more about the fact that they’ve lived there (in the refugee camp) for more than three generations now,” she continued. “In the Gaza camp, they’re not considered to be Palestinian citizens or Jordanian citizens, so they’re basically stateless people and they have a lot less human rights.”

On Wednesday, the professor and humanitarian held a public talk at ETSU’s Reece Museum titled “Trauma-Informed Dialogue: The Power of Coffee and Conversation to Change the World.”

Yasin’s talk, which was part of the “Women on Wednesdays” lecture series, focused on “the power of kindness to draw people together to affect change on a global scale” and the things she’s learned through her experiences working with vulnerable populations.

“I’m sharing some of my experiences around the world and the research that I’ve done as it correlates with all of that,” she said. “It’s all about self-awareness and being aware of triggers and knowing what resources are available in different situations.”

Yasin said she hopes to continue working closely with others who want to learn more about trauma-informed care in education, health care and mental health care. Whether it’s adverse childhood experiences or living in the midst of violent geopolitical tensions, Yasin said learning how to communicate with those who have experienced trauma is key. 

Social sensitivity, according to Yasin, is particularly important during the first few weeks of classes at universities, which has been dubbed the “red zone” for the frequency of sexual assaults that take place during this period.

Working with people who have experienced trauma such as this is also a delicate process, according to Yasin.

“Everyone has a story and you really need to be careful with how you interact with people and how you treat people,” she said. “If you meet someone for the very first time and don’t know what they’ve been through, the way you interact with them for the first time can either re-trigger them, further traumatize them or it can help them heal.”

For more information on Yasin’s research and work, as well as other “Women on Wednesdays” lectures, visit www.etsu.edu.

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