Daemen College Awarded $1500 from New York Council for the Humanities

 

Funding to Help Plan 2013 World Refugee Day Commemoration Event

 

March 1, 2013

 

Media

Contact: Mike Andrei

                Director-College Relations

                (716) 839-8472

                mandrei@daemen.edu

 

Daemen College has been awarded a $1500 grant from the New York Council for the Humanities (NYCH) to support an event in commemoration of World Refugee Day. 

 

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) annually commemorates World Refugee Day on June 20, through events held worldwide to celebrate refugees and raise awareness. Buffalo-based organizations serving refugees, together with members of the Buffalo community, commemorate World Refugee Day locally with a range of community-based events. 

 

The idea to plan events around World Refugee Day stemmed from a recent Civic Seminar workshop, funded through a $1000 grant from the Bringing Theory to Practice program.  The workshop was developed by Daemen Associate Professor of History and Government Dr. Joseph Sahr Sankoh, Associate Professor of History and Government Dr. Andrew Wise, and Daemen Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement Executive Director Cheryl Bird. Held in October, 2012, the event was attended by over 50 students, faculty, staff, and community members.

 

Dr. Sankoh is project director of the NYCH grant. As leader of the Daemen Refugee Studies Committee, he also developed and teaches a service-learning course about refugees, and co-supervises senior thesis research on refugees. He has been involved in past World Refugee Days events and works with many African Refugee community organizations.   

 

"Buffalo has a large refugee and immigrant community, and Daemen College is actively involved in scholarship and community-based work related to refugees,” said Dr. Sankoh. “This event will allow us to expand and celebrate this scholarship and service in a forum that engages refugee members of the community, scholars, and students." 

 

Dr. Wise said, "While many individuals can trace our ancestry back to refugees and immigrants, there often remains a disconnect between that past history and translation to having understanding for the experience of refugees in our own community. 

 

“Through this event, the planning team aims to engage members of the community in deeper understanding of, and dialogue about, refugee experiences, both past and present, through a variety of educational experiences – from storytelling to theater to round table discussions to lecture to workshops.  In essence, we aim to engage a public audience in hearing the refugee story in ways they may not have before. "  

 

Bird coordinates a mentoring program for refugee teens in Buffalo at Lafayette High School that engages Daemen service-learning students in tutoring and mentoring.  

 

"I am excited for the opportunity to engage the students at Lafayette High School who participate in after-school tutoring with Daemen students in this celebration.  It is an opportunity for Daemen to deepen our ties to the community, with the community, in the community."

 

As part of the planning process, the team will invite Dr. Ben Moore of Fontbonne University, of St. Louis, Missouri, to Daemen to share expertise for planning the event and related initiatives.

 

Dr. Moore helped found the Bosnia Memory Project, dedicated to establishing an enduring record of Bosnian genocide survivors, especially those living in the St. Louis area. The Project includes recorded interviews; books, letters, and photographs; and academic and curricular programming. 

 

Through collaboration with the Holocaust Museum, donors, and others, the Bosnia Memory Project led to a comprehensive exhibit that has been visited by more than 10,000 individuals. 

 

Since the summer of 2011, faculty and staff at Daemen have been meeting to formalize a Refugee Studies program to coalesce community engagement and scholarly activities already happening, and to prompt new initiatives (and ultimately, a Refugee Studies journal).  The initiative builds upon Daemen's interdisciplinary Global Studies minor, which offers coursework, international experiences, and service-learning abroad with local immigrant or refugee communities.

 

For more information or to get involved, please contact Dr. Sankoh at jsankoh@daemen.edu.

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