QU 301 students meet with refugees

Julia Perkins

On April 18, 38 students from Professor Monika Advocate’s QU 301 Global Women class spent five hours with refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

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Advocate’s QU 301 class is a service learning course where students have to volunteer for the community. Since 2009, Advocate has coordinated with Immigrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven to have her students work with refugees from New Haven High School and Gateway Community College.

This year, the students and the refugees toured the Quinnipiac campus, played soccer, visited the Earth Day celebration in Burt Kahn Court and went on a scavenger hunt, according to Advocate.

The day also included a workshop on the path to attending college. The refugees were grouped with students who were in majors the refugees were interested in. Many of the refugees were interested in business and nursing programs.

“[The refugees] would love to attend Quinnipiac, but of course we know that it is a long way to achieving that kind of goal,” Advocate said. “What we were trying to impress upon them is that you have to plan ahead and make those steps that will lead you to ultimately to your college education.”

According to Advocate, many of the refugees’ parents are not knowledgeable of the educational system in the United States.

“We are filling that void and helping them to integrate into our global and national community,” Advocate said.
One of the refugees who had participated in Advocate’s previous programs with IRIS has been accepted into Quinnipiac for the fall, she said.

However, Advocate said the students learned from the refugees, as well. By talking to the refugees and watching a video of a refugee camp that two of the young adults lived in for five years, the students opened their eyes to the global community, she said.

“That was something that brought us straight into the experience, to be able to touch the experience of those individuals was a precious moment and the students resonated with it very much,” Advocate said. “In college everything is so pre-planned and expected in a sense and then you need to sort of understand that the larger world is more unpredictable and so encounters with people from the outside cannot be fitted in neatly into boxes in categories in some way.”