CRS: Refugee Experience
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Division: University-wide Programs
Department: Global Studies
Course Number: UGLB 3714
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
The U.S. resettles about 80,000 refugees annually of whom 35 to 40% are children. This collaborative research course introduces students to concepts related to forced migration with a focus on the experiences of refugee children. In the first part of the course we will read key texts which discuss the definition of refugee, refugee camp experiences, and the three permanent solutions for refugees outlined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with a particular emphasis on resettlement in third countries. Students will learn how the youth whom they will encounter in the service learning component of the class (see below) experience these transitions from being a resident of their country to becoming a refugee and then finding refuge in the U.S. Youth and their families are aided by Voluntary Agencies (Volags) to ease their transition to a new society. In the second part of the course we will discuss issues that are pertinent to refugee youth such as assimilation, acculturation, and the needs of Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE). Ultimately the course will juxtapose theory and practice and by doing so, knowledge will be mutually reinforced and enriched. This course is comprised of regular seminar meetings AND a substantial service learning component. Students will serve as tutors in the IRC’s Youth Program for a minimum of 3 hours per week throughout the semester. Students will have some options regarding their volunteer sites (boroughs, ages and ethnicities of the children to be tutored). In this capacity they will see the inner-workings of programs designed to aid refugee youth’s adjustment to their new environment and to succeed academically. Thus, they will be able to make connections between their experiences and observations and the theory/readings discussed in class. Given that students will work with youth all students have to undergo a background check administered by the IRC. In collaborative research projects, students will create a guide for school teachers to help them understand and assist their refugee (and immigrant) students better. For this project students will draw on existing research and data. In addition, students will collect data on challenges faced by refugee youth through participant observation in the service learning component and through semi-structured interviews with key informants such as IRC staff/teachers and selective refugee youth. The guide/blog/report which the students will compile will include a theoretical section on forced migration and refugee resettlement and a practical part which will include suggestions on how to assist refugee children. Thus, the guide/blog/report will enable students to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge of issues related to refugees/immigrants as well as to demonstrate the knowledge which they have gained through volunteering with the IRC.
Open to Undergraduate students.