Nazareth Refugee Advisory Board
For several years, the City of Rochester has been a host to those who have personally endured a violation to their basic human rights. With approximately 750 refugees arriving in Rochester each year from Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo, to name a few, more and more community members are standing up to become active stakeholders in not only the resettlement of these new community members, but also in the efforts to spread awareness of violations of human rights around the world.
One such stakeholder is Nazareth College who has taken an increasingly active role in these efforts. Their approach to refugee resettlement has grown substantially from the direct person power approach. Nazareth College shares its own institutional and scholarly resources with those working with the refugee community while also creating opportunities for refugees to share their cultural and experiential resources with Nazareth students to create a more informed community.
The Nazareth Refugee Advisory Board, comprised of faculty, staff and community members has made numerous connections between Academic Departments and the Refugee Community. Nursing students provide health promotion workshops at an area Outreach Site. Gerontology students have the opportunity to conduct research focus groups with elder refugees. Students and faculty from the Communication Sciences and Disorders department provide consistent tutoring services through an area outreach center and have also developed new tools for improving the language barrier of newly arriving residents. And students from various departments now have the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge of refugee populations through internship and work study opportunities at Refugee Outreach Centers.
Additionally, Nazareth College students recently formed a Refugee Student Alliance and are actively volunteering in the community on a regular basis and holding fundraisers and awareness events around campus. These students have partnered up on several projects with a local Interact Club which is comprised mostly of refugee students. They have also partnered up with the Refugee Resettlement and Adaptation Course to host a Two Day Refugee Awareness Series that attracted over 120 students, faculty and community members.
As Nazareth College continues to centralize and increase its involvement with the refugee populations of Rochester, there is hopeful eagerness and selfless curiosity lingering in the brisk winter air. And at the same time, community members and former refugees are also standing up to become active stakeholders in not only the resettlement of refugees, but also in the efforts to spread awareness of violations of human rights around the world. The faculty, staff and students of Nazareth and the Rochester community are ready to continue to engage in this relationship of reciprocity … always willing to give and always ready to learn.
- By Danielle Rhubart, AmeriCorps*VISTA