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Young Adult Refugee Cultural Transitions in Utica, NY

Page history last edited by Isabelle Van Hook 11 years ago


Friends Without Borders Project



In the fall of 2009, Hamilton's Professor Judy Owens-Manley began to teach a new service-learning based course on Refugee Resettlement and Cultural Transitions. The six Hamilton students in the course all had an interest in the refugee process and learning how refugees adapt to new lifestyles. The course studied a background of the refugee process, and looked at studies of the cultural and emotional adaptations that refugees go through. The course at Hamilton partnered with the Newcomer ESL program at the Conkling Administrative Building in Utica, NY to take what was learned in the classroom into the real world and discover how teens from a refugee background adapt and cope with adjusting to a new lifestyle.



The Friends Without Borders Project was structured on three levels: the Hamilton classroom, the ESL classroom, and social events in the community.


The purpose of having a course based on the refugee experience was to educate the American students in cultural awareness techniques, and to provide them with some framework of how refugee populations are displaced, put in camps, and then resettled in other countries, how families cope, and what sort of trauma they experience. 


The Newcomer ESL classroom was incorporated into this project to provide a stress-free and safe environment where the Hamilton students and the refugee students could become familiar with each other and slowly build up friendships. Hamilton students went to the classroom once a week to help tutor students in English, but more importantly, built up the trust necessary to successfully participate in social events together. 

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