Members of the Student Refugee Program Alumni Advisory Team and newly arrived students at WUSC’s International Forum, 2018 (Photo Credit: WUSC)
Members of the Student Refugee Program Alumni Advisory Team and newly arrived students at WUSC’s International Forum, 2018 (Photo Credit: WUSC)

Student Refugee Program yields the Alumni Advisory Team, which engages in refugee programs and solutions

WUSC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) transforms the lives of many — especially formerly sponsored students.

After their studies, formerly sponsored students (or SRP alumni as they are known) have gone on to do many diverse things in Canada and globally. These range from ordinary — working and supporting a family — to extraordinary — playing leadership roles in national and international fora. Regardless of the path they take, SRP alumni continue to  passionately advocate for access to higher education, refugee inclusion and peace in their work and communities.

WUSC greatly values this diverse network of SRP alumni. Our alumni play an important role in shaping both the work of WUSC and the SRP, and in building solutions to the global refugee crisis. Over the years, SRP alumni have engaged with WUSC and guided and participated in programming in a variety of ways.

Student Refugee Program alumni leading other newcomer students

In November 2018, in recognition of the importance of integrating refugee experience and leadership in our work, WUSC created the SRP Alumni Advisory Team. This alumni group provides support for current SRP students and plays a key leadership role in  advising WUSC on future directions for the SRP. The group also contributes by speaking on issues of education and displacement at various events and conferences.

The SRP Alumni Advisory Team is comprised of 12 SRP alumni who bring their varied perspectives, skills and experiences to strengthen refugee leadership and guidance for the SRP. Alumni members are diverse and representative, including women and men from various countries of origin and asylum, regions in Canada, and professional fields and interests. The team meets regularly and actively participates in WUSC’s International Forum, Leadership and Regional meetings. Members of the team also act as ongoing resources and experts in building the knowledge-base of WUSC staff on refugee and SRP student experiences.

The impact of the Student Refugee Program Alumni Advisory Team

The SRP Advisory Team has already had a direct and positive impact in the lives of students and for the global conversation on solutions to the refugee crisis. So far, the team has:

  • Provided training and mentorship to ensure that currently sponsored students smoothly transition to life in Canada;
  • Provided technical advice and guidance to WUSC staff on program enhancements and new programming ideas;
  • Acted as ambassadors and spokespersons in internal and external public speaking engagements; and,
  • Engaged and empowered a wider community to learn and take action on refugee issues.

In the last year, the former refugees on the SRP Alumni Advisory Team have shown their leadership, creativity, collaboration and desire to have a direct, positive impact on the very program that they themselves benefited from.

Globally, a diversity of actors and approaches are coming together to respond to the challenges of displacement in new ways. Regardless of the intervention, refugees and displaced people must be at the centre of these discussions and solutions. The SRP Alumni Advisory Team is one way in which the perspectives of former refugees can be meaningfully included into discussions, decisions and solutions.

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