What: “Seeking a Safe Haven: UNT Refugee Summit 2017” — A one-day workshop at the University of North Texas on issues faced by refugees, focusing on resettlement and integration.
When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 2 (Monday)
Where: Room 314 of UNT’s University Union, 1155 Union Circle, Denton
Cost: Free, but registration required. Register online through Sept. 25 (Monday).
Parking: Parking available in Highland Street and Union Circle parking garages. For more information on visitor parking, go here.
Texas accepted more refugees than any other U.S. state in 2016, with 8,930 refugees seeking safety within the state, according to U.S. State Department records. Currently, nearly half of those refugees, hailing from 28 countries, are living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
At the University of North Texas’ Refugee Summit Oct. 2 (Monday), representatives from state and local governments and refugee assistance agencies, as well as researchers who focus on refugees’ experiences and adjustment to resettlement will discuss issues faced by refugees.
The summit is being funded by a grant from the Council on Social Work. The keynote speakers will be Donna Duvin, executive director at International Rescue Committee in Dallas, and Jonathan Ryan, executive director at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in San Antonio. The day also will include four panel discussions, including a panel of refugees; a luncheon with Ryan as the speaker and a video of interviews with 15 refugees and 10 representatives from refugee assistance agencies.
Hadidja Nyiransekuye, UNT assistant professor of social work and coordinator of the UNT Refugee Summit, said attendees will learn the important differences between refugees, who are sent to the U.S. or another nation for resettlement legally, and asylum seekers, whose formal requests for sanctuary in the U.S. or another nation have not yet been processed and approved.
“It’s important to understand the contribution of refugees to the U.S. Some were accountants, engineers and medical doctors or in other distinguished professions in their native countries, and they bring their skills with them. Others have created businesses and are giving back to their new communities,” said Nyiransekuye, a native of Rwanda and survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. She and her four children were formally granted asylum in 2000.
Nyiransekuye added that refugees and asylum seekers can face many potential issues from both past trauma and cultural or religious barriers while setting into a new country.
By Nancy Kolsti, UNT News Service