This October, second-year Russian Studies major Hillary Hurd organized a dinner, panel, and discussion to raise awareness about the refugee community in the Charlottesville area. Hillary began planning this event last spring. She asked CIOs and peers interested in improving refugees’ integration into the community to be part of the planning committee. On October 3rd, approximately 70 students and 30 faculty members gathered to hear about the personal journeys of three local refugees who came to the United States through the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The dinner and discussion after the panel gave students, faculty members, IRC staff, refugees, and locals the opportunity to exchange thoughts about community dynamics and ideas on ways to help refugees feel more at home in Charlottesville.
Hillary’ s involvement in the refugee community began in high school when she volunteered at the Richmond Police Department as a translator for Spanish immigrants. She said it was “ such a shocking experience” to hear about all of their hardships. These immigrants’ stories resonated with her and made her want to learn more about refugees in the Charlottesville area, what challenges they face acclimating into the community, and how students can help make their transition easier. If you want to learn more about the issue and ways to get involved, please contact Hillary Hurd at firstname.lastname@example.org.