On Friday, April 21st, 2017 the Center for European Studies hosted a panel discussion focused on undergraduates who will undertake or have engaged in volunteer work with refugees overseas. Three students shared their perspectives on this topic. The event might have been aptly called a before-and-after discussion. Students reflected on the experiences ahead of them and how their past volunteer work has shaped their future plans. Others commented on the volunteer work they have in store for this summer and on their related expectations and hesitations.
Lizzie Russler is a first-year student who is part of our second Excel @ Carolina cohort. She will soon leave for Uganda where she will work with refugee populations and examine the ways in which the EU is adapting strategies used in Africa to manage refugee populations in Europe. While overseas Lizzie plans to teach a course and work with young people to construct murals to tell different types of stories through art.
Peter Cooke is a Senior who studied abroad in Montpellier, France during his Sophomore year. That summer he moved to Paris to work with Syrian refugees seeking asylum in France. His French and Arabic language skills enabled him to help these refugees navigate the complexities of the French asylum application process and to interview individuals to learn more about their life stories. Peter has written about his experiences here:
During the panel discussion, Peter explained the extent to which his summer in Paris and interactions with refugees shifted his professional goals and helped him to deal with adversity upon his return.
Emily Venturi is a Junior with Italian and British citizenship. She studied at Sciences Po in Paris last semester and simultaneously volunteered with refugees there through a school-sponsored program. Her work had to do with providing supplies and other logistical support to refugees in the city. She remains committed to this area of focus and will spend this coming summer researching the ways in which the EU works to manage refugee populations outside its borders. Emily talked about the ways in which the media shapes our understanding of refugees and the need to examine one’s own position when working to help displaced individuals.
We hope to stay in touch with these students over the summer and keep you posted on their volunteer work and service learning!