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“The Journey of a Refugee” – A prize-winner at the Grad Fair

Nino Dgebuadze (center, photo), a concurrent student in Nonprofit Management (MNM) and International Studies (INTL), was part of an award-winning 3-person panel at the 2019 University of Oregon Graduate Forum. The panel used three points of view to sketch a narrative of modern displacement and the conditions that surround the journey of many refugees who flee conflict — particularly in Middle East. The title: The Journey of a Refugee – Wartime Origins, Acculturation Experiences, and the Perspectives of Onlookers

Originating with turbulence and threats of violence at home, millions of individuals from Syria, Yemen, and other regions have been forced to flee their native lands and seek refugee elsewhere around the globe. Displacement-causing conflicts such as these often arise from power struggles or under the rigid and exclusionary rhetoric of authoritarian leaders.

The first presenter, Ashleigh Landau (PSY) talked about her work investigating exclusionary rhetoric as a precursor to mass violence, and discussed the development of new tools that may help detect hateful public speech that is likely to escalate into violence or genocide. After leaving home, many refugees must seek new residence in communities around the globe.

Nino Dgebuadze (MNM/INTL) discussed her studies into the experiences of displaced women who have fled violence in Syria and resettled in Greece. In adapting to life there, many struggle with acceptance, equity, and belonging in a place that faces its own economic troubles.

The third presentation by Alex Agarinther (PSY) provided an onlookers’ viewpoint. For those unaffected (for example, many Americans), the decision to engage with refugee resettlement efforts is choice—one can choose to help, or to tune out mass suffering. This last presentation was an overview of studies that asked Americans to consider policy questions related to refugee resettlement; they found that many Americans neglect information about the suffering of refugees fleeing Middle Eastern conflict, and this is especially true among Americans who don’t want them immigrating here.

Together, these three presentations brought together a web of perspectives that helps to illustrate why and how the current global refugee crisis begins, unfolds, and remains a perpetual global issue that adversely affects the lives of millions. Their $400 award at this, the 10th Annual Graduate Research Fair, may in part, become a seed for more research.