E.O. Smith students address refugee crisis

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Feb. 5—STORRS — On Oct. 8, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions, raising the annual refugee admissions goal to 125,000 for 2022.

This doubled the admissions cap he set for the 2021 fiscal year.

With more refugees expected to come to the U. S., students from E. O. Smith High School's Deliberation & Discourse Program are taking a look at the situation.

The group even hosted a virtual event Jan. 25 to inform people on what they can do to support refugee families.

With the event, students from Mansfield, Ashford and Willington also hoped to educate and spread awareness in the community regarding the current worldwide refugee crisis.

At the event, students from the Deliberation & Discourse Program asked Tanya Kimball Genn questions about refugees.

Kimball Genn is the director of education and youth services at the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services Summer Learning Program. This program aims to provide high quality educational experiences for refugee and immigrant families across Connecticut.

Kimball Genn noted a refugee is someone forced to leave home whereas an immigrant is someone who chooses to move.

One of the questions asked was what obligations do individuals have to respond to the needs of refugees.

Kimball Genn said being kind is a good first step: " Smiling and being friendly to immigrants can go a long way.

She encouraged students to be open-minded when meeting refugees and immigrants. " Don't assume stereotypes are true," she said.

Kimball Genn pointed out refugees play a vital role in American society. They contribute to the economy by opening up businesses and buying homes. Some refugees even go on to achieve greatness on a national scale.

" Albert Einstein, Madeleine Albright," she said. " There are so many people who have done amazing things who are refugees."

There are many ways people can help refugees. Genn said students can donate supplies to refugee resettlement agencies across the state.

For more information on the E. O. Smith High School Deliberation & Discourse Program, visit www.eosmith. org/clubs.

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Smiling and being friendly to immigrants can go a long way.

Tanya Kimball Genn