May 30, 2024

CLAS awarded $50,000 grant to strengthen engagement with refugees

Students at Ohio State will have new opportunities to learn more about refugee and immigrant populations and how they adjust to life in the United States through a partnership between the Center for Latin American Studies and Community Refugee Immigration Services (CRIS). A $50,000 U.S. Department of State Innovation Incentive Grant awarded to Ohio State will fund the development of curriculum focused on refugee resettlement and the creation of peer-to-peer activities for CRIS families and Ohio State students.

“The grant allows us to pilot experiential learning activities that would bring community members and Ohio State students together, and to develop curriculum on forced migration and refugee resettlement that would be integrated in high-enrollment general education courses,” said Leila Vieira, assistant director of CLAS. “We’ll have the resources necessary to create a sustainable and replicable service-learning program that supports local resettlement outcomes.”

Curriculum development and activities will take place in 2024-25.

  • Two fellowships will be created for undergraduate students to join the CRIS Community Connectors at Ohio State, a student organization that helps young new Americans transition to Columbus and creates mentorship opportunities.
  • Spanish in Ohio course will be redesigned to incorporate curriculum on refugee resettlement and include campus activities to connect Ohio State students with CRIS youth.
  • The Department of Spanish and Portuguese will launch a new General Education service-learning course that will connect students to refugee communities outside Latin America.
  • Activities supported by Ohio State CRIS fellows include bilingual campus tours for CRIS youth, recreational sports, mixers for CRIS families and expert lectures on refugee resettlement, among others.

“Our goal is to provide equitable learning experiences and promote a welcoming and accessible environment to those populations who are seeking a sense of belonging,” said Stephanie Aubry, assistant professor of teaching in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. “This project seeks to create transformative learning experiences at Ohio State by promoting a culture of service engagement to improve the well-being of our local and global communities.”

Jeremy Hollon, associate director of community partners at CRIS hopes the grant “taps into the immense lived experience of Ohio State students to be able to provide guidance, support and friendship to our new American students. Our program continues to grow and am hopeful this helps develop true partnerships on the Ohio State campus, pipelines to mentors/ volunteers, and also having our students gain crucial college experiences that are culturally minded and linguistically responsive to their needs and continue to provide cross-cultural experiences for all.”