UNH Celebrates Immigrant and Refugee Support Day May 1
By Lori Wright, Media Relations
May 2, 2007
UNH will celebrate Immigrant and Refugee Support Day Tuesday,
May 1, to recognize student work in diverse communities.
One student who will be recognized is Justin Carr, a junior
from Rollinsford who participated in the Refugee Resettlement
project. He worked with refugees from Africa to teach them
English and help them understand governmental procedures
and paperwork. This summer he will coordinate volunteers
and tutoring services for immigrants and refugees.
“Many of the refugees are very fluent in their tribal
language(s), usually Swahili and Spanish or French. Learning
English can be difficult while trying to create a new life
in America, finding employment, and raising your family.
So our goal was to teach them enough basic English to get
by in a world driven by communication,” Carr said.
Carr has been struck by the courage of the families to
leave Africa to escape the terror of corrupt governments.
His work has exposed him to the difficult situations refugees
find themselves in once they reach America; their challenges
include learning English and not understanding governmental
processes to apply for benefits and legal status. Even seemingly
simple processes such as paying bills, scheduling medical
appointments and applying for health benefits are challenging.
“The most rewarding part of this experience is meeting
the families, developing relationships, and watching their
progress continue to grow. It is such a relief for them
when we are able to really answer their questions, finish
paperwork and drop it off in the mailbox. It is awesome
to help such people who are so kind, just trying to assimilate
to life in America,” he said.
The day begins with a seminar with Dereje Feyissa Dori
titled “Seeking Refuge and Finding Identity: Southern
Sudanese in Ethiopia and Minnesota.” It starts at
12:30 p.m. in the Center for the Humanities Seminar Room
on campus. At 4 p.m., the Immigrant Rights Task Force will
hold a rally at Manchester City Hall in support of keeping
families together by speaking out against raids and deportation.
At 7:30 p.m., UNH will recognize students who have participated
in a number of immigrant and refugee projects, including
work with Rock Rest Preservation Project, Portsmouth African
Burial Ground Research Project and NH Immigration and Refugee
Research Project. It will be held in the Memorial Union
Building Theater I on campus.
Hubert Simwerayi and Helene Batyo will speak at the evening
event. The topic of their talk is “A Personal Narrative:
Settling Here and Helping Those Left Behind.“ UNH
students were instrumental in reuniting Simwerayi and his
Helene with their seven children in 2004. For more information
on that effort, visit http://www.unh.edu/news/news_releases/2004/september/lw_20040902reunite.html.
The event is sponsored by the UNH African-American Studies
Minor; Anthropology Department; Center for the Humanities;
Race, Culture, and Power Minor; and UNH-Black Heritage Partnerships.