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Dr. Diya Abdo speaking during the Global Briefing Series.

Global Briefing Series: Dr. Diya Abdo speaks about the global refugee crisis

Friday, February 24, 2023

Media Contact: Kelli Norton | Communication Specialist | 405-744-5496 |

Students, faculty, staff and Stillwater community members gathered to listened to Dr. Diya Abdo speak on Feb. 16 at the Wes Watkins Center as part of the Global Briefing Series held by OSU Global. 
Abdo is a Lincoln Financial professor of English at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is the founder and director of Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR).  
As a second-generation Palestinian refugee born and raised in Jordan, Abdo read compelling personal stories of refugees of different backgrounds in her book, American Refuge: True Stories of the Refugee Experience.  
Abdo connected the stories of individual refugees with the staggering number of displaced refugees. While the number of refugees and the reasons for their displacement seem daunting, she believes community support can make a difference in refugee resettlement. 
“The number of displaced individuals and refugees is astronomical,” Abdo said. “With over 100 million people displaced and 27 million designated as refugees, it does feel very daunting to participate in ways that are meaningful and have an impact. It's important to remember that our communities regularly welcome refugees as newcomers and new neighbors and that we can make an impact and a difference in their lives.” 
Abdo believes community members can help by directly contacting local resettlement agencies and community organizations that support refugees to ask them about their needs and how they would like to see the community involved. She said identifying local needs and being responsive is an excellent way for the community to engage in supporting local ecosystems for refugee resettlement and integration. Another great way is to learn about Welcome Corps and participate in sponsoring refugees, she said.  
She has identified universities as key players who can play a significant role in assisting displaced people as they often have access to appropriate resources and additional support that refugees may need.   
“Colleges and universities are unique in that they are resource-rich (human and material) and have much to offer to support the well-being of their communities,” Abdo said. “Universities and colleges also commit to their educational goals and the values and mission of higher education, especially in community engagement, public service and transformative educational experiences. Supporting refugees fulfills the ideals of higher education institutions on many levels — the local, the national and the global.”   
Dr. Jami Fullerton, associate dean of the School of Global Studies, is proud that OSU helps the Afghan refugees who are in Stillwater to resettle after they were abruptly forced out of their country by the Taliban after the U.S. military left.   
“We provide enormous, life-changing assistance by helping displaced people resettle on campus,” Fullerton said. “These are people without a place to go and who are fleeing war and civil unrest in their countries. Having them on campus provides many economic and cultural benefits. Plus, it is just the right thing to do. They have brought so much joy to many of us who work with them and have gotten to know them over the last 18 months.   
"It is heartbreaking that a small number (out of millions of refugees) ever attain full integration into a new country. So many spend their entire lives in refugee camps without a real home or country. I’m glad that is not happening to the Afghans in Stillwater.” 
Watch Abdo’s Global Briefing — “The Global Refugee Crisis and What it Mean for Us” — here.

Watch Abdo’s TED Talk — “Revisioning the University Campus” — here

Story By: Kelli Leech |

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