On Thursday, Feb. 28, Student Advising and Success and Student Engagement teamed up to host an open discussion with College of Western Idaho (CWI) students who entered the country as refugees. A refugee is a person that has fled their home country to another because of persecution due to race, religion, political opinion, ethnicity, or nationality. Boise is one of two resettlement cities in Idaho in which newly arrived refugees are resettled. Since the 1980s, Idaho has resettled thousands of families and people which have fled ethnic cleansing, territorial conflicts, political unrest, and religious prosecution. Within the last decade, the majority of peoples resettled to Idaho have been from Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Current data for the number of CWI students identifying as a refugee are unknown.
Attendees of the meeting ranged from first-semester students to alumni who discussed their successes, barriers, and frustrations experienced as a student. Many of the topics discussed were found to be common among the refugee students. Participants had a positive experience working through their struggles together with the help of CWI resources and faculty.
Common topics included:
- Refugee students face language barriers in the classroom.
- About half of the refugee students care for other dependent family members other than children (i.e., parents, siblings).
- Refugees come to the United States with a college education already. Despite this, many of their credits do not transfer, and they are starting over.
- Most have a desire to befriend domestic students to help them with notes, study, talk with, etc., but they often are too scared to make the first move to start a friendship.
- Terms that may be familiar to domestic students are not easily understood by refugee students (i.e., FAFSA).
- Many students struggle to balance work, school, and the caring of their children and/or other family members.
Students interested in joining the conversation are welcome at the next International and Refugee Student meeting at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 14, at the Ada County Campus Pintail Center in room 1204.