The trials and tribulations of refugees in America were the focus of a discussion by 30 Northwest School students and faculty members on April 13. As part of the school’s Activism Project, students invited Wendi Lindquist, development and communications officer for the Refugee Women's Alliance (ReWA) to join a student-led panel.
The Activism Project is a joint project by Northwest’s senior Writing Seminar and Race and Gender classes. More information about the project can be found here. ReWA is a non-profit that provides refugee and immigrant women and their families with cultural and linguistic services in Seattle.
Students heard from Wendy about some lesser-known numbers involving refugees. For example: approximately 70 percent of refugees are women and children, and there are over 20 million refugees throughout the world (not including the nearly 40 million displaced individuals in the world). Wendi encouraged the students to connect personally with refugee communities.
"Hearing that my uncle, my friend's uncle, or a woman I work with is a refugee personalizes the data about refugees. They stop being a number and become human beings," says Wendi. "That is important. Refugees are human beings with their own stories, their own struggles, and their own lives. We can't forget that."
Dursa M. '17, one of the organizers of the talk, told the students his uncle nearly finished the refugee process to the United States in 2001, but was sidelined after the Sept. 11 attacks. He had to restart the whole process and arrived in Canada a month ago.
"Especially in today's climate, we need to confront the negative stereotypes and show immigrants and refugees in a more positive light," says Dursa.