Students create group to help educate young refugees

Media Credit: Alyssa Bogosian | Hatchet Photographer

Left to right, Daryl Grisgraber of Refugees International, Robin Contino of Catholic Relief Services, Professor Ronald Waldman of Milken Institute and Bernice Romero of Save the Children spoke at a No Lost Generation panel about Syrian refugees on campus last week.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2015 at 11 a.m.

One group on campus is working to educate Syrian refugees.

A group of international affairs students launched GW’s chapter of the No Lost Generation campaign last month. The new organization will fundraise for high-profile partners like the Rumie Initiative, an organization that gathers online educational content, puts it on tablets and distributes them to refugees in Turkey and Jordan.

The group will also hold events on campus to raise awareness about the refugees, junior Matt Donovan, one of the group’s three executive directors, said.

“The generation of Syrians that is our age and younger is the generation that’s going to have to rebuild eventually,” Donovan said. “If they don’t have access to education now, it makes the process that much harder. We’re trying to look forward.”

Donovan said the campaign has already contacted several other universities across the nation about opening new chapters, including Georgetown and American universities.

Donovan said he wants GW students to understand that the young refugees aren’t all that different than they are.

“To see a kid just wants to play with his friends after school, or wants to join a soccer team or wants to do well in school, those are all things that we’ve felt,” he said. “We hope that students will understand that there is a way to help. You don’t just have to see these images repeatedly and feel helpless.”

On Saturday, No Lost Generation hosted a “Hack-a-thon” in Duquès Hall, where students gathered online content from sources such as Khan Academy, which the Rumie Initiative will load onto tablets and distribute to Syrians in refugee camps across the world.

Backed by groups like the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNICEF and the U.S. Department of State, the global No Lost Generation campaign formed two years ago. Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United Nations estimates that more than 4 million people have fled the country.

Meital Kupfer, a sophomore and the internal relations coordinator of No Lost Generation GW, saw the plight of Syrian refugees while studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan over the summer.

“I was really frustrated with the lack of support for refugees on campus,” she said. “I jumped on board because I think it’s something that all GW students have a stake in as an internationally minded campus.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that No Lost Generation students had spoken to the University of California, San Francisco. We regret this error.

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