Refugee Alliance: A Committment to Vulnerable Populations

Colorado College’s Refugee Alliance held its first meeting of the year Tuesday Sept. 4. Formed in 2016 by Heather Powell Browne, CC’s Assistant Director of Global Education, the club originally worked solely with refugees. Recently, they have expanded to work for undocumented people’s rights in response to the current political climate surrounding immigration.

Photos By Daniel SarchÉ

Leaders provided attendees with pamphlets detailing some little-known statistics about refugees in the state of Colorado; for instance, for every $1 spent on refugee assistance, $1.68 is generated in industry activity throughout the Colorado economy. The packet also contains the story of a family living in Denver that describes the reasons for their refugee status and expands on their experience in America.

Colorado Springs recently received eight new families from the Democratic Republic of Congo — CC Refugee Alliance members will be closely involved in the families adjustment to living in the States. Students will mentor refugees in English, transport them to appointments, and provide help in becoming self-sustainable in the United States.

The Refugee Alliance has many low-commitment options for students to get involved. The minimum requirement is six hours per block, and students can choose from providing tutoring, cultural mentoring, and job skills training to refugees, among other options. “The CC Refugee Alliance is important to be involved in because we volunteer with two of the most vulnerable populations in Colorado Springs — refugees and asylum seekers,” said club Chair, Natalie Sarver, ‘20. “Services like tutors and transportation, as well as just knowing that people in the community care about them, are essential to refugees’ ability to thrive in their new home.”

Sarver emphasizes the importance of regular commitment in the lives of refugees and encourages those who can commit a few hours each week for three or more months to join. “You can be a very dedicated member and make a difference in a person or family’s life with a small, consistent commitment,” Sarver said. The opportunity to take on a larger obligation is also present.

When asked about her best experience being involved in Refugee Alliance, Sarver responded, “From a tutoring perspective, teaching a woman multiplication who only had a few years of school before becoming a refugee in another country before making it to the U.S. The excitement that she had when she started to get the math made me truly happy for her and her kids — that they are now in a place where the kids can safely go to school and their mom has opportunities that she did not have before arriving.”

The club is the perfect opportunity for students to make a difference and learn about other cultures while forming long-lasting relationships.

The next training session will take place in Tutt Library on Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. If unable to attend, email n_sarver@coloradocollege.edu or fill out the club’s form on Summit.

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