Boise State maintains strong partnerships with several refugee-serving organizations. Students and faculty working with refugees often seek additional tips, reference material, and project ideas. If you have additional references for this page, please contact Kara Brascia.
BSU Refugee Collaboration Team is a group of campus and community leaders who meet on a quarterly basis to promote the following goals:
- assist refugees in rebuilding successful lives in Southwestern Idaho,
- educate our students and our community toward these efforts, and
- make the resources of BSU fully accessible to refugees in Idaho.
Student Resources from the Idaho Office of Refugees (Review FAQ on this website before contacting refugee agencies). If you still need information, complete this information request form.
- Articles, videos, and books related to refugee issues
- Cultural backgrounds for major refugee countries of origin
- Information on local resources for refugees
- Recent news articles relating to refugee issues
Consider the following principles for creating effective assignments about/with refugee communities:
Move beyond the “Interview someone who’s different from you” assignment.
- This can promote an orientation of outsider/insider, other-oriented, clinical/client, where the other person is a research object; we suggest an orientation based on dialog, curiosity, collaboration, and reciprocity.
Types of assignments that could work:
- Attend an event where refugees and advocates are already sharing stories and getting to know each other (e.g., Artisans for Hope, Gates of Hope, Neighbor Narratives)
- Join a conversation rather than schedule an interview; provide suggested questions
- Observe a tutoring session or classroom (without interrupting)
- Collaborate with refugees on creating a visual art piece or poem or article, etc.
- See Sample Service-Learning projects with refugee communities
Consult with refugee agencies in advance:
- Contact Service-Learning Program for help connecting with refugee agencies
- Design activities/assignments that benefit the refugees and not just the students (ask the refugee liaison what would be useful to them, then design the assignment together)
- Think of refugees and agencies as partners and collaborators, rather than detached research subjects
- Be patient and persistent. These agencies are under-resourced and often are responding to emergencies.
- Consider whether an assignment you create will be a burden on refugees or refugee agencies, in terms of time, coordination, or emotional impacts.
Plan the assignment with these elements:
- Articulate the purpose for engaging with refugees, and why it’s part of the course
- Offer flexibility on assignment deadlines and design, due to common scheduling challenges
- Ask students to review Student Resources from the Idaho Office of Refugees before contacting refugee agencies. If they still need information, ask them to complete this information request form.
- Promote sensitivity to cultural differences–be curious about different norms, responses, expectations
- Assign reflective writing where students can list their beliefs and assumptions about refugee community, then debrief about the differences and similarities, strengths and assets, and positional privilege.
- If you are asking students to talk with refugees, prepare students to ask safe questions, e.g. ask questions about their life now in Boise (do not ask them about their trauma stories).
- Prepare students through videos, discussions, and readings on the issue, such as the TED talk, Shut Up and Listen, or watch a video about refugees and immigrants and talk about the differences and similarities.
Other resources include:
- Films on Demand – Full length and segment based films on any topic, with 98 videos about refugees.
- Statistics: The World Bank – Refugee population by country or territory of origin
- CIA: The World Factbook – Information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.
- Ethnic News Watch – Searches ethnic issues in current news
- CAL – Immigration and Refugee Integration Resources
- Cultural Orientation Resource Center – Refugee Backgrounders
- If you are asking students to contact a refugee agency; please contact the agency first to discuss student learning goals and what students may need.
- If you are asking students to interview refugees, prepare students to ask safe questions, e.g. ask them about their life now in Boise (do not ask them about their trauma stories).
- Be patient and persistent, these agencies are under-resourced and often are responding to emergencies.
- Have students visit agency websites before contacting agencies for info.
- Be mindful that agencies cannot share client’s background information without consent.
- Please do not ask students to record their conversations with refugees.
Quick Cultural Guides (written by students in Boise State ENGL 512 in 2011 for other SL students and volunteers):
Visit the Idaho Office of Refugees page (IOR) for more information on:
- Refugees in Idaho
- Community Organizations working with Refugees in Idaho
- World Refugee Day
- English Language Center