State department program brings refugee students to JMU
A new program administered by the U.S. State Department will help two refugee students enroll at James Madison University in the fall. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
The program is called Welcome Corps on Campus, and JMU Professor Christie Kilby explained that it will bring two students to Harrisonburg from a refugee camp in Kenya.
CHRISTIE KILBY: We saw this opportunity … not just as a way … to recruit new students to campus who we otherwise may not get to have, who are very skilled and talented and ambitious and courageous people, but it's also a chance for us to start learning more and participating more robustly in solutions to displacement.
These students will be part of the program's first cohort arriving at college campuses across the country in time for the fall semester. Faculty and staff volunteers at JMU will provide the services normally offered by resettlement agencies, such as filling out government paperwork and teaching them how to navigate daily life in the U.S.
KILBY: We're going to be providing household items that they need for their dorms, clothing, computers, all of the kind of academic services that they'll need to plug into … peer students to mentor them and introduce them to cultural life here – teaching them how to use the bus in Harrisonburg, where to buy groceries. … We want to be there to support our students through this really challenging cultural adjustment period.
The university's African, African American, and Diaspora Studies Center will also help support the students. Kilby said funding for the program came from a State Department grant and donors among the JMU community.
Full disclosure – WMRA's operating license is held by JMU's board of visitors, and JMU underwrites programming on WMRA.
Editor's note, 4:20 p.m. — the spelling of Professor Kilby's first name has been corrected.