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‘We Can Eat, We Can Live’: How Refugees Are Finding Home on an American Campus

 

Millions of refugees are escaping violence in search of a safe haven.

Inspired by the Pope’s call on every parish to host one refugee family, guided by her institution’s Quaker tradition, and animated by the Arab-Islamic word for campus (حرم) which means “sanctuary,” Diya Abdo, associate professor of English at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.A founded Every Campus a Refuge, an initiative which calls on every college and university around the world to host one refugee family on their campus grounds and to assist them in resettlement. Now, more than ever, private colleges and universities can play a pivotal role in housing and resettling refugees.

Thus far, Guilford College has hosted 43 refugees total (23 of them children between the ages of 10 months and 17 years).  The hosted families have come from Africa and the Middle East, including two Syrian families. Our campus community assisted them in their resettlement in Greensboro and continues to maintain connections with them after their “graduation” from the Every Campus A Refuge Program.

Guilford College is currently hosting on its campus a 9-member family.

This compassionate hospitality carries with it an incredible educational opportunity:  the campus, working across its various silos and in collaboration with its local community, welcomed not just families but the “real world” into its proverbial “bubble.”Everybody’s life is transformed in the process.

During this time of deep Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism, there is no better moment for campuses to intervene directly and materially in the discourse around refugees, immigrants and “others” — to transform the narrative from one of fear to fact, hatred to empathy, ignorance to awareness.

​​Will your campus be the next refuge?

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