Marquette University CRS Ambassadors Work to Humanize the Refugee Experience

By Marquette University CRS Student Ambassadors"Cookies and Conversation discussion with refugees" poster with students in an auditorium

In response to the executive order enacted at the end of 2016, students from Marquette’s community came together in an effort to voice their concern. Students felt more should be done for refugees around the world.  In the spirit of collective advocacy, Marquette’s CRS Student Ambassadors along with other student organizations distributed information and scripts to encourage students to phone legislators and engage in public advocacy.

The effort was successful; students filled the voicemail boxes of their legislators and made their voices heard.  By talking to fellow students during this activity, Marquette CRS Student Ambassadors found that Marquette students wanted to meet refugees and learn more about their experiences.

The ambassadors brMarquette Student Ambassadors welcoming students to event ainstormed two ways to humanize refugees and decided to host a panel discussion and simulation to help students become more aware of the refugee situation both locally and worldwide. On a college campus in Wisconsin, migrants can seem so far away and are often seen as a statistic, rather than a mother, father, or child.

The ambassadors invited three refugees from different cultural backgrounds to share their story with 120 Marquette students. Because of this experience, students expanded their knowledge and understanding of the difficult journey of refugees. A refugee from Iraq shared his experience of leaving behind his homeland as a result of continued war and violence. Students were able to act on this increased understanding by sending advocacy cards to their representatives to call for legislative change in response to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement,which pleads for support for refugees.

The ambassadors then held a refugee and migration simulation where students gained a better understanding of the stresses of Students standing with signs saying "I stand with refugees because..." followed by a reasonleaving one’s home and going through the immigration process. While there is no way to adequately emulate these horrific experiences; each station in the simulation attempted to demonstrate a different part of a migrant and refugee journey. Activities were designed to simulate border crossing, detention and deportation, asylum processing, and reflection with a previous refugee and current refugee case manager. In the deportation simulation, students participated in an ICE raid in which the entire family was questioned and the parents forcibly detained. 

The activities informed students about the migrant experience in the midst of the Syrian Refugee crisis and the recent government actions regarding refugees and migrants. However, this is an ongoing issue.  Marquette CRS Student Ambassadors hope that you will join in advocating for the rights and needs of refugees and migrants worldwide.

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