By: Arianne Leclerc, Local Committee alum, and Rhoda Philip, SRP alum
Recently, WUSC representatives took part in the second annual event: Engaging Student Voices to Support the Global Compacts, held by the University Alliance for Refugees and at Risk Migrants (UARRM) at the George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. Student leaders, policy makers, practitioners, and post-secondary education leaders came together at the event to share knowledge, lessons learned, and best practices.
WUSC held a session on the Student Refugee Program (SRP), facilitated by Carolyn McKee, WUSC Program Officer; Rhoda Philip, SRP alum; and Arianne Leclerc, Local Committee Alum. Session participants explored the role that students can play in supporting complementary pathways that enable refugee students to pursue post-secondary education in safe and supportive environments.
Students leading the way to creating welcoming communities
Overall, the session was well-received and the audience was highly engaged. Participants were curious to know more about the functioning of the SRP, the important role students play in our peer-to-peer model, and the dedication and impact of the campus-based and student-led WUSC Local Committee network. We also discussed what the peer-to-peer sponsorship model could look like in the American context, including how organizations, institutions, and students can work together to create supportive environments for refugee students on campuses.
Despite the challenge of addressing an audience that works in a completely different immigration context, we were happy to see how easily we connected with participants. We were impressed by the level of activism and engagement from students and organizations in the US. The work of American organizations actively supporting asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants is encouraging.
It was particularly inspiring to listen to and learn about the work of different student-led organizations – such as RU DREAMers and No Lost Generation. Just like the SRP, these organizations that are fueled by the energy, ideas, and passion of young people are leading the way in contributing to the creation of welcoming communities for refugees. Welcoming communities are essential for successful resettlement and integration, especially in challenging immigration contexts.
Rhoda Phillip, SRP alum facilitating a session on the Student Refugee Program at the George Washington University in Washington D.C., November 2019 (Photo Credit: WUSC)
Partnering with like-minded organizations to support post-secondary education pathways
Given the number of vibrant student leaders and organizations supporting access to education for refugees and at-risk migrants in the US, we are excited to see how our partnership with UARRM will continue to grow. UARRM, together with its multi-stakeholder network across the country, is a perfectly suited organization to pave way for an American peer-to-peer program in support of post-secondary education pathways for refugees. The gauntlet is now thrown to US students to respond to the call for greater action and support to ensure all young people have access to the education they deserve.