Refugee Empowerment

IMG_0626In 2015, the Making of the Modern World Program translated its intercultural knowledge into direct service locally by working with the International Rescue Committee’s Peacemakers Program, mentoring refugee youth, who were enrolled at Crawford and Hoover High Schools and who were primarily from Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, Congo).     Founded in 2009, Peacemakers was developed in response to refugee students’ desire to increase awareness and understanding of the situation of refugees in the community and around the world. Peacemakers focuses on the development of public speaking and leadership skills, fosters multi-cultural understanding, and highlights issues affecting refugees.   Through public speaking engagements, Peacemakers share their remarkable stories and advocate for a more inclusive environment. MMW’s mission of increasing global understanding aligns well with Peacemakers, which made it an ideal complement to this IRC program.  In 2017, IRC and MMW expanded this work to include Peacemakers from the Middle East (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq), all of whom live in El Cajon.

In AY16-17, MMW collaborated with IRC for an Empowerment and Leadership Program.   Twice each month (generally), Peacemakers visit the UCSD campus, which they describe as a welcoming and inclusive environment, where they feel safe.   MMW hosts the program and provides UC hospitality to this valued community, some of whom will apply for admission to UCSD as undergraduate students, either as freshmen or as transfer students, and all of whom will benefit from this support that UCSD offers our community.   The MMW Empowerment and Leadership Program is currently delivered through UCSD staff and undergraduate volunteers.   MMW organizes a variety of activities, such as the following:  Interaction with UCSD staff, students, and faculty, including college writing program faculty for crafting narratives and Medical School faculty for a discussion of refugee health and career possibilities, as well as with UCSD athletics teams; and touring campus facilities (Library, Stuart Collection, CALIT2, etc.).  The MMW Empowerment and Leadership Program also utilizes the expertise and experiential opportunities made possible through a collaboration with the Recreation Department, from the campus’ high ropes course and climbing wall to hiking and water activities offered by UCSD Outback Adventures.    Each session concludes with a group meal and oral reflection on the day’s activities.  MMW is developing, in collaboration with Peacemakers, a campus art project, a gallery walk of photo stories exhibiting the resiliency and uniqueness of the refugee community, poetry night that will be open to poets from the UCSD and Peacemaker community (presenting original poems), and a leadership curriculum.

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